I’m not sure how many people attended the launch of World Book Night in Trafalgar Square, on 4th March, but in spite of the cold weather, some sources claim that 10,000 flocked to the event. Swapping books and chatting to each other, explaining why we had chosen our particular books, we all had two things in common: a love of reading and heartfelt support for Alan Bennett’s view on the imminent library cuts.
Jamie Byng who dreamed up this incredible event, opened the evening quoting C.S. Lewis, ‘We read to know that we are not alone.’ In such a large crowd, we certainly weren’t alone and were in for a treat listening to many authors, as well as actors, read aloud. Some read from their own books, while others read work from other well-known writers. Fiction was joined by poems and autobiography. Listening to great authors like Edna O’Brien, Margaret Atwood, John Le Carré, and Phillip Pullman was a delight, but for me, the highlight was Alan Bennett. I’ve never been a huge fan of his, but hearing him read from A Life Like Other People’s, one of the 25 WBN titles, made me want to read it for myself. I was lucky enough to receive a copy in return for one of my own books.
Since the launch, I have been busy giving away my 48 books. Some have been appreciatively received at Homeless Action Barnet, others at Chase Farm Hospital, and some have gone to people I know, many of whom will, in turn, pass the books on. I have registered some copies on BookCrossing and have released them into the wild! Who knows who may capture them?
If my chosen book, A Fine Balance, which I am re-reading, brings its new readers as much pleasure as it brought me, it will be a great job done, and I hope that it will perhaps open up somebody’s world while enabling somebody else to know that they are not alone.