I’m flattered and delighted to be told by World Book Night that I have been chosen as one of the givers on 23rdApril.
Last year I did this for the first time. It was exciting picking up the box of books from Tunbridge Wells library. The one I’d chosen was JoJo Moyes: Me Before You. I’d read it only because JoJo had given a talk at the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA). It wouldn’t normally be a book I would’ve picked up, but her talk was so fascinating I decided to buy it. What an amazing story. I couldn’t help admiring the author for tackling such a difficult subject and producing a novel that is not at all depressing – in fact, quite the opposite. (Hope I’ve whetted your curiosity and you rush straight out to get it!)
Because I enjoyed reading something ‘different’ I wanted to pass this particular title on to other people. Me Before You is not a thick book so I felt it wouldn’t be too daunting for those who may not have read a book in a long time, or who never read, full stop. Wheeling my trolleyload of books through my village on World Book Night (it didn’t have to be night so I plumped for the afternoon), I met both strangers and people I knew.
One or two refused point-blank to accept a book but most people’s imaginations were caught as they’d not heard of World Book Night. Young, harassed-looking mothers gripping their toddlers’ hands and pushing prams with dangling shopping bags told me they never had time to read, but that the book looked interesting and they promised to make a special effort. The funniest encounter was two grinning builders who came down from their scaffolding and grabbed a copy each.
I offered one to my postman who shook his head in wonder as he popped the book under his arm and turned back down my drive. Two days later a relief postman knocked on my door.
‘I just want to thank you for the book,’ he said.
‘What book?’ I was puzzled.
‘The one you gave my colleague. He doesn’t read. He’s passed it on to me. I usually only read the newspaper but I’m really looking forward to reading a book for a change. This one looks intriguing.’
And that, I believe, is what World Book Night is all about.