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World Book Night 2012

At last! The list of books selected for this year’s give-away has been released, and I think you’ll agree there is something to tempt even the most reluctant reader – from classics to contemporary favourites, international bestsellers to major prize-winners. And all chosen by you:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Player of Games by Iain M Banks
Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Take by Martina Cole
Harlequin by Bernard Cornwell
Someone Like You by Roald Dahl
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Room by Emma Donoghue
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Misery by Stephen King
The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Let the Right One In by John Ajvde Lindqvist
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell
The Damned Utd by David Peace
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Touching the Void by Joe Simpson
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak

Unlike the Booker list, the WBN shortlist reflects the contents of my book shelves, those best-loved books that I return to time and and time again. Based in fact (but with one of the most original narrators), The Book Thief is the book I recommend to anyone who says they don’t love fiction. I am teaching a creative writing course in January about hook-lines and have selected the opening paragraph from Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle as one of my favourites: a young girl sitting on a draining board with her feet in the kitchen sink, writing about her poetry. What could be more perfect?

Tracy Chevalier, Chair of the World Book Night editorial committee is thrilled with the final list: “The committee has worked hard to choose
accessible, entertaining books that will appeal to lots of different people. The list features vampires and crazed fans, heart-broken butlers and time-travelling lovers, classics and bestsellers. In tiny rooms, on football terraces, up snowy mountains and down apocalyptic roads, these books take readers on journeys all over the place. Key to all of them is that they tell cracking stories which make you stay up late reading to find out what happens.”

WBN are now looking for 20,000 passionate readers to act as givers. Last year I gave away 50 copies of The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night-time in M & S, Sutton. I anticipated that I would be there for a couple of hours: I was there for less than five minutes, leaving me plenty of time to join in the celebrations at my local branch of Waterstones. One lady I met planned to travel around London by Tube, delivering her crime novels to 50 different police stations, but this can be a simpler affair – your local pub for example.

In order to be apply you must be:

16 or over and resident in the UK
Able to collect 24 copies of your chosen book from your local bookshop or library (or have someone who can collect them for you)
Committed to giving your books away on or around World Book Night (23rd April) to non or light readers

Givers will be selected based on where, to whom and why they want to give the books.

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman are delighted, honoured and touched that Good Omens has been picked as a World Book Night choice:

“We love books, and think that a Night during which people give each other books is the best kind of Night there could be. We wish that
there had been Nights like World Book Night when we were younger. Unfortunately, there weren’t, and we had to make our own entertainment, which is probably why we wrote Good Omens. But, hurrah! World Book Night! Give each other books. Especially ours. Every word lovingly inserted by craftsmen. We thank you. P.S And while you’re about it try writing books yourself, it worked for us!”

To apply to be a giver, for more information and terms and conditions visit