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Let’s share fantasy at World Book Night

2014 World Book NightBack in 2011 there was a bit of a kerfuffle when the UK’s version of World Book Night – a highly publicised night that independent charity, The Reading Agency, runs to promote reading and encourage a generation of confident and enthusiastic readers – released their list of titles and it didn’t have any books that we could consider fantasy on it. This was couple by the fact that The BBC pretty much ignored its existence in the vast array of book related programmes they televised to coincide with the event.

The result was that some of the genre’s biggest names spoke up and 2012’s list was packed with some of Fantasy/Sci-Fi’s most loved titles by authors such as Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman, Iain Banks, Phillip Pullman and Markus Zusak. In 2013 the list was made considerably shorter (just 20 titles, as there are this year), but fantasy still had Patrick Ness flying the flag and there was also John Wagner’s 2000AD graphic novel too – so 10%, which isn’t bad).

Rivers_of_LondonThis year there’s only one true fantasy novel, Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch – you may want to double check that because some inevitably cross a few genres – but I’m pretty pleased with it, because it is a very good example of contemporary urban-fantasy with mass appeal.

For those of you who haven’t heard of World Book Night, the way it works is that the list of 20 books that The Reading Agency has chosen are printed in HUGE quantities (cheaply made, but very readable copies) and then handed out to ‘community book givers’ who volunteer to give books out to people who don’t usually/regularly read in their community (you can apply to be one if you like).

The charity aim to give books to 35% of the population, which means that 1.75% of the population could potentially end up being exposed to a particular book, and therefore its genre, which is why there was such an outcry when a certain genre is under-represented.

That said, there is a new way to contribute to World Book Night this year. The charity, and remember it is a charity, is encouraging us – readers – to invest in our communities by choosing a book on our shelves or even buying it (if you have the money/inclination) and providing it to someone you think will benefit from it – i.e. someone who doesn’t regularly read in your community.

As an individual who is on a mission to expose as many people to reading as possible and the owner of a website that was set up to promote good books, as you’d probably expect, I’m VERY much into the idea of handing out awesome books to people who don’t usually read – especially when it’s fantasy. As such, I will be signing up to give away a ton of awesome books I’ve read – both review copies and a few I intend to buy: The Way of the Shadows, The Painted Man, The Way of Kings, Retribution Falls & Prince of Thorns – and think my community will benefit from reading.

Man readingIf you share my opinion that more people in our communities should be exposed to fantasy and perhaps shown that it isn’t just a genre to be read by the hardcore fans who like dressing up as Hobbits, I’d love for you to join up as a community giver either by giving away a couple of your second hand books (there are details on how to get hold of bookplates and such that explain World Book Night) or to commit to a greater extent and give River of London out to people who don’t usually read for whatever reason and show them the wisdom in the words uttered by genre-giant George R.R. Martin that whereas ‘a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.’

Click here to find out more about World Book Night UK

Note, I’m obviously from the UK, but the US also has a version of World Book Night that is different to the UK’s, but is on the same date, April 23rd 2014. They have a wider variety of titles in there for you to give out too:
Click here to find out more about World Book Night US

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3 Comments

  1. Avatar Bibliotropic says:

    I would love to someday get involved with World Book Night. However, ironically, that ‘world’ seems to consist of just the US and the UK; last time I checked, there wasn’t even an option for people in Canada to participate. Here’s hoping the world expands a little bit soon.

  2. […] – especially when it’s fantasy. In fact, late last year I called for the community to ‘share fantasy on World Book Night‘ and I think this kind of report adds further credence to my […]

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