World Book Night 2014

Today/tonight is World Book Night which has become one of my favourite nights of the year, yes along with such joys as Christmas, my Birthday and the second night on a long holiday (when you have gone past the first day and night of being knackered from travel and have all that blissful time ahead, I need a holiday abroad soon). Any venture that sends you out into the world, without putting yourself in danger, to give people copies of books is a marvellous thing and in the UK alone they are giving a million books away. Great stuff.

I have been thrilled to have been chosen again, I initially had a sulk thinking I hadn’t until I checked my spam mail, for the fourth year running. I have been very lucky so far giving away copies of some of my favourite books; Half of a Yellow Sun, Rebecca (which I also read from to lots of people that year) and The Reader (at the first night of Liverpool’s first literature festival which really should come back). This year I think I have topped them all, yes even Rebecca, as I am giving away the first in my favourite ever series of books which I read in my teens (and made me feel less alone) and have re-read and re-read since. Yes, I am giving away Tales of the City.


Now as is tradition, because it means a lot to me, I am giving most of these away to the local cancer hospital where the staff, patients and their loved ones can have copies that hopefully might shine some light in a very difficult time and then be passed on to others again and again.

I am keeping some back though this year and, as a giver who just loves to go on giving, four of them are going to come into work with me tomorrow, two being left on the train in the morning on the way in and two on the way home, with a little note hopefully finding them some new temporary homes and fans who will pass them on again. I am also sorting through my own books to pass some on to people at work and leave more in the library I made in the communal hall a while back.

Who else is giving books away for World Book Night, which title have you got to give and how are you going to give it away? If you haven’t been a giver have you planned on passing some of your favourite books? Oh and just out of interest, if you could give away a million copies of just one book which would it be and why? Suggest a few and who knows I may pick some of you at random to send a bookish treat through the post!


Filed under World Book Night

12 responses to “World Book Night 2014

  1. This is the first year I haven’t been to a World Book Night event. Boo. No free books as my local Waterstone’s usually have a quiz night but nothing this year.
    I’d give away Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind – it’s wonderful, but also about books and stories, which is a perfect gift.

  2. Kateg

    Happy World Book Night, Simon! I am missing it this year due to poorly timed foot surgery, but I participated the past 2 years. If I could spend my days giving out books to reach 1 million copies my first choice would be To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This book has touched me in so many ways and Ms Lee’s beautiful prose shows how to
    live our lives with dignity and grace, free from prejudice of any kind. Reading it just made me a better person and re- reading it, I always find something new. Other books I would love to give away: Rebecca by you know who ( and not just to kiss up to you, but because it really reminds me of my mom), The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot ( I gave it away 2 years ago for WBN) and Midwives by Chris Bohjalian. It is wonderful you are distributing your books at a cancer hospital and leaving several in the “wild”. Thanks for this post And the chance to live WBN through you this year!

  3. After giving away copies of The Secret Scripture last year, I’m not taking part this time around – there were no books on the list that I was familiar enough with, or felt passionate enough about, to feel able to enthuse about them to colleagues or strangers. I’ve recently won a copy of Tales Of The City, though, so I hope I enjoy it as much as you did!

  4. I am giving out copies of Code Name Verity tonight. This is my third year and the second that my mom will be giving out her own choice by my side. I’m excited but wish I had more time to be excited about it, if that makes sense. This year and last seemed to fall on the busiest weeks for me, but I’m hoping by tonight I’ll be able to slow down and get into the spirit. Since we’re giving out so many books, we plan to go to the park and then to the hospice center where my grandmother died. We had actually given out books there six months before she ended up there, and the nurses remembered us. So now we go back because there’s a special connection.

  5. Hope you had a wonderful night Simon, I think it’s wonderful that you went to the cancer hospital to hand books out – good bit of escapism is needed there I would imagine.

    I think I’d give away The Pride of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Sparks – I read it recently and it infested my mind, I’d like to share that feeling.

    My world book night was fairly lame, as I couldn’t find anything going on – that I could attend – in my town. But, I read some of Americanah so it wasn’t a total loss 🙂

  6. I gave away copies of This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolf (this was my first year as a giver). I ended up going to the local businesses we frequent and giving them to the people who work there (dry cleaners, veterinarian’s office, restaurant where we have a breakfast date once a week). Everyone was really excited and appreciative to receive the books. It was really great.

  7. You are the first UK blogger I follow that has posted about participating in World Book Night! I forgot to submit my application in time this year, so Edinburgh was short at least one giver. And a hospital is an inspired place to distribute the books!

  8. Annabel (gaskella)

    I am giving away Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. Most will be coming into school with me to give to parents dropping their kids off. I liberated a couple of copies on the London Underground yesterday too though.

  9. What a great book to give away! I was invited to a dinner honoring Maupin at our undergrad where he’ll receive an honorary doctorate this May, but unfortunately I can’t get back for it. I can’t wait to finish the series and come back to read your responses to it.

  10. Leona

    You, Simon, are the reason that I was out giving books away this year here in the US. I heard about WBN on your podcast last year, while walking ma dog in one of my favorite parks. And with thoughts of giving out books in this park, I applied and was accepted. As the time got near to give out the book, Pantoon by Garrison Keller, I checked with the park and was told that I could not give anything away with a special permit and it would need to pertain to the Civil War–as this is a battlefield park. Next up was a park at a lake–and I was able to give away all of my 20 books in under 2.5 hours—it was a beautiful day.

    If I could give away million copies of a book, it would be Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen— a beautiful story with love, war, wild animals and travel and more……–and is based on her life.

  11. GLENDA

    A couple of years ago I gave out “Love in the time of cholera” by Marquez in the wards of a hospital in Northern Ireland where my husband works and the patients and staff were very appreciative- it was great! Love the idea of the books being left randomly for people to enjoy! Glenda

  12. Love WBN–a fun, worthwhile program. This year I gave away BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA.

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