Sue Wilkinson, our CEO, reveals which books she chose to inspire and engage three non-readers on World Book Night 2014.
Inspiring someone to start reading
World Book Night proved to be, for me, a moment of reflection as well as a wonderful celebration. As an avid reader I was excited and inspired at the thought of choosing the books I would give away that would inspire someone else to start reading and to love it.
But then I looked at the pile of books I had chosen and realised that I needed to think again. I remembered that whilst our passion for and love of reading is the starting point for all our work; it is only the starting point. World Book Night isn't just about celebrating reading, it is also about sharing reading and encouraging more people to pick up and open a book and to find for themselves the power and the pleasure of reading. So, the starting point for my book gifting had to be the same as the starting point for all our programmes and partnerships; it had to be the reader I was trying to reach.
Back onto the shelves went many of books I had initially chosen and I sat down and thought again about more about a specific young man I wanted to inspire and engage.
Books for a scientist, a decorator and a footballer
I still did give away one copy of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It went to a scientist who has "no time for fiction" and who is, I hope, going to love the author's ability to bring the past to life and to make all of us think about both the miracle and the cost of scientific research. Whilst visiting my family in Barnsley I gave Mick, a local painter and decorator, a copy of The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner. He was thrilled and has promised to tell me what he thinks of it.
But in order to engage the particular young non-reader I was trying to target I needed something different. I had to read things I hadn't read before, I had to get out of my comfort zone and I had to do that thing which perhaps we all sometimes forget to do - which is to practise what you preach.
Thank goodness that is what librarians do every day, thank goodness for colleagues who work on programmes like the Six Book Challenge which are designed to get people reading and thank goodness for family and friends who love talking about books and thinking about what will inspire more people to read.
So, what do you get for a 23 year old with a passion for football and cricket but "no time for reading"? In the end I went for an old favourite of mine that I thought he would enjoy and gave him Stick it Up Your Punter: The Uncut story of the Sun Newspaper by Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie. As yet I haven't heard what he thinks of my choice but I am hoping that when I do it will be because he has really loved reading it.
Discovering new reads
World Book Night is amazing - we've seen an outpouring of generosity and support from a wide range of partners. 250,000 books have been printed and are being given away by nearly 10,000 volunteers. A further 2,500 people signed up to be Community Book Givers. It's a great reminder of what can be done when we all come together to share and spread our love of reading.
But it is also a great reminder of why we do what we do and how we must constantly strive to do it better. Everything really does change when we read; on my hunt for the perfect book to give away I learnt when Spurs last won the FA cup (1990/91) and I also read a book about cricket which I really enjoyed! A Lot of Hard Yakka by Simon Hughes hadn't been on my ever growing 'to read' list but if it isn't on yours either then I can strongly recommend it.
Read about the books being given away around the UK to celebrate World Book Night.
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