World Book Night is a huge success
24th April 2012 - 1:8pm
The second annual World Book Night proved to be a huge success, with hundreds of thousands of free books handed out across the UK to foster a love of reading among members of the public.
Many leading literary figures helped to give out books and several acclaimed authors contributed to a special gathering at the South Bank Centre in London.
They included Andrea Levy, who won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2004 for Small Island, Mark Haddon, who scooped the Whitbread Book of the Year in 2003 for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, and David Nicholls, whose 2010 novel One Day was named Book of the Year at the Galaxy National Book Awards.
They each read excerpts from their work at the South Bank Centre, alongside a number of other authors, while there were live streams from World Book Night events in Germany, the US and Ireland, where celebrations were also taking place to mark the occasion.
Events in other parts of the UK saw the Duchess of Cornwall and Stephen Fry handing out copies of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt giving away Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson and author Kathy Lette handing out Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice to politicians at the Houses of Parliament.
Jamie Byng, founder of World Book Night, said the involvement of other countries and the continued success of the event illustrates that it has become a 'global initiative'.
'We have been overwhelmed by the support from our international partners; the number of givers signed up and the sheer volume of books being given away across Germany, the US, the UK and Ireland is truly astounding and the prospect of so many great books being read and shared all over the world is very exciting,' he added.
A full list of the 25 titles handed out on World Book Night can be found here.