Saturday, 5 March 2011

World Book Night - Dissolution

I was desperately excited when I found out that I would be one of the book givers for World Book Night. The book I picked was Dissolution, the first in the series about Matthew Shardlake by C J Sansom. I adored it when I read it, and I wanted to share it with as many people as possible. It's a historical murder mystery with a fabulously grumpy protagonist.

I know a lot of people have raised issues with the idea of World Book Night, such as the fact that it reduces earnings for bookstores and puts a ton of books into circulation that will probably end up just being put into charity shops and not actually read. I can sort of see the point.

And yet... the idea of these free books being given out fills me with a complete thrill. The idea that people might try something they wouldn't normally read. The fact that the profile of reading and these 25 worthy authors are being raised.

I've also loved the fact that books and reading have taken over radio and TV. BBC 2 are running a series of TV programmes tonight, and on the Graham Norton radio show this morning he read out a great deal of messages from people saying where they'd be giving out their books today for World Book Night. He also conducted an interview with Michael Morpurgo who talked with great passion about reading and getting children involved as early as possible.

I picked up my books from Waterlooville library yesterday. When the librarian invited me to collect my two big boxes I saw masses of other boxes which were still to be collected by book givers and that gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Suddenly I had a real sense of community and as though I was doing the same as thousands of other people across the country.

I got my books home and piled them up for this picture:

The other thing I did while I was out to collect my books was mitigate the effect of handing out free books by heading to my local bookshop and buying the below:

Since C J Sansom kindly waived the royalties for the copies of Dissolution being handed out, I decided to buy Heartstone, the fifth in the Matthew Shardlake series. I finally got my hands on The Wise Man's Fear, and also picked up Declare by Tim Powers, since it has now been shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke. The book at the bottom - Rachel's Holiday - is another of the World Book Night editions, which I swapped with someone at the library who was picking up their books.

So far I have handed out around 25 of the books received - some to friends, including writerly pals:

(excuse the rubbishy photo - this is the very beautiful and glamorous trio of Alex Bell, Jaine Fenn and Suzanne McLeod, enjoying Dissolution with some lime margaritas!)

I also hit my hockey gal pals with Dissolution, some of whom were bemused by the whole idea but gratefully accepted a free book:

(Again, my terrible photography skills are shown to great effect here *sighs*)

One thing that struck me, though, is that this is supposed to be WORLD book night and yet is confined entirely to the UK right now.

So I have embraced the WORLD aspect of the day and 20 of my copies of Dissolution are winging their way around the world as we speak. Friends of mine in other countries should look out for Dissolution appearing in their letter boxes in the next few weeks. I have managed to send copies of Dissolution to: North America, South America, Europe (several locations), Asia, Australasia, and Africa. Shame I don't know anyone currently based in Antarctica! I am hoping they will read and enjoy the book and then maybe pass on the copies across the country in which they live. All I would ask is that they send me a picture of themselves holding the book in front of some identifying landmark, or shop, or building that will show how far Dissolution has travelled!

I've really enjoyed my little part of World Book Night, and I wouldn't hesitate in signing up again next year if it takes place.

How has your World Book Night gone? What are your thoughts on the initiative? Positive or negative?


  1. It went well, I blogged about it. Still some people were suspicious about taking the book when I was stationed at the shopping centre with partner and daughter. Do we look like religious nuts or dodgy sellers???

  2. It's great to read about your experiences of World Book Night and giving books away. I'm in the Netherlands and can only "participate" by reading other people's blogs and watch tv about it. But: I also won a Copy of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie from someone's blog. How nice!

    Hope you get lots of nice reactions from over the world!

  3. I think that's a great idea to send some of your books further than the UK! Haven't read this one but husband has and really enjoyed it!

  4. I'm pleased that you had such a successful time. Sadly, my books never arrived and I was told today that they will probably never do so. Apparently up to 10% of givers have been disappointed in this way. So next year they obviously need more resources as the chaos around delivery and failing websites etc was bad. No party for Miss Jean Brodie here!

  5. I really enjoyed reading this while doing some research on World Book Night. Hopefully next year Canada will get involved. I'd love to be part of this!

  6. Hey, Amanda, maybe your camera lens has fingerprints on it?