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GUEST BLOG: Share your favourite books with the nation

11th July 2011 - Julia Kingsford

A million free books were given away on the first World Book Night this year. Chief Executive Julia Kingsford reveals how next year's selection will be based on suggestions by the reading public.


World Book Night crowd shotThere is something extraordinarily special about receiving a great book that someone puts into your hand and says, 'I really love this one, you've just got to read it'. Whether it's brand new and beautifully wrapped at a birthday or a well-read copy being carefully handed on, the gift represents so much more than those inked pages bound together. The cult Italian writer Antonio Porchia summed it up when he wrote, "I know what I have given you, but I do not yet know what you have received", a book will mean something new to each person who receives and reads it.

It is this act of giving and sharing the wonderful joy of reading that lies at the heart of World Book Night. For those who didn't hear about it, the inaugural World Book Night was held in March this year and saw 20,000 people around the country volunteer to giveaway copies of 25 carefully chosen and specially printed books with one million books given in total. For 2012 we're moving World Book Night to April 23rd - the international day of the book - but little else is changing, we're still looking for 20,000 volunteers who passionately love books to help us spread that incredible pleasure by giving away one of 25 newly chosen titles.

WBN logoFor this year's list we canvassed booksellers, librarians, publishers and agents to recommend their favourite books and an editorial committee then chose the 25 titles. For next year we're asking as many people as possible to tell us the top 10 books they love to read, give and share and these collated lists will inform the editorial committee's decision. The process launched 12 days ago and so far we've had just under 2000 people submit their lists. You can view the top 100 (in alphabetical order) though the number one choice by some way at present is To Kill a Mockingbird.

Perhaps the most impressive thing is the diversity of books that have been submitted. The top 100 represent just a tiny fraction of the vote; so far 3575 different books have been nominated and the votes are so split that for all 15,000 votes have been cast it takes just 14, for now, to make it into the top 100.

It is a very personal thing to tell someone your favourite book. Some people (like me) have a solid definite favourite (The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford; it's perfect, you have to read it), others find their favourite changes with their mood. Taking this into account we've specially built the top 10 nomination process to allow you to chop and change to your heart's content. There is no submit button, there is no finality, you can change your list as often as you change your socks should you so wish. You can view it as a snapshot of your favourite books now or your favourites of all time. But whatever you pick you're giving that book the chance to be shared and discovered next April by thousands and thousands of others. What could be a more extraordinary gift?


Click here to submit your Top 10 for World book Night 2012.


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