Tag Archives: Alexander McCall Smith

World Book Night UK & Ireland 2013

World Book Night UK & Ireland 2013

Last year I had the opportunity to be a World Book Night giver. I stood in the middle of Nottingham Town Square and approached complete strangers, people I didn’t see walking around with books. I spoke to loads of people & asked them whether they liked to read books & whether I could offer them a book I had read & loved – The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Boy was it hard! A lot of people looked at me like I was a lunatic, walked the other way when they saw me coming & I even had one person tell me to “F*%k off!”. I’ll be honest, it really made me sad that people were so wary of listening to what I had to say, but I persevered & eventually I managed to find 20 people who would put their scepticism away long enough to listen to me, would tell me their stories & would eventually accept my offer of a free book.

Unfortunately I forgot to save the list of numbers that were in my books, so I was unable to look them up & see if the people who got my books did as I asked & passed it on, which is a real shame because that’s a big part of what World Book Night is about. Over the year I hummed & hawed about whether to sign up to be a giver again this year. OH & I have moved & we’re in a new community & we only know 1 person in the area we’ve moved to, so I thought what a great way to get out there I the community & maybe make a difference? So, I did sign up to be a giver & I chose a book that is such an easy, delightful read  – The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith & I decided to give them away within my local community. Specifically in the hospice & the local hospital. I never in a million years expected to get chosen 2 years in a row, though because so many people apply & they only accept 20, 000 people to give away 20 books each.

So, tonight I got an email telling me Congratulations, I had been chosen as a giver! I am really excited this year – more so now that I know what to expect! I do think this year will be very different & I am so glad to be chosen to be part of this group of people trying to bring the joys of reading to people who, for various reasons don’t read a lot. And in answer to the question above – I think the World Book Night website sums it up best “One third of households in the UK don’t have a single book in them. World Book Night wants to change that, change lives and open up a world of possibility to those who haven’t discovered why reading matters. And we need your help – not just as book lover and a passionate volunteer but also, if you can, as a donor.”

Roll on April 23rd!



by | February 23, 2013 · 8:11 pm

What do you do with your books when you've finished reading them?

I have these grand visions of a massive livingroom, with 2 of 4 walls lined with beautiful book shelves, full of books – top to bottom, with maybe a few picture frames & precious knickknacks thrown in for good measure. Obviously the reality is far from the dream….

I live in a nice enough 2-bedroom house, but I don’t own it. I rent, so putting up book shelves, while possible, cannot be done to the vision I have in my head. Instead, what I have is random piles of books all over the place (including a big plastic moving container full of books) & the couple of Argos book shelves I do have are filled to capacity.

For the first 6 years I lived in the UK I lived out of a suitcase, so there were no book shelves, so I didn’t keep my books, or at least most of them anyway. Every time I got to the point where it was time to move locations the 2 suitcases would get packed up & sometimes the clothes would be sacrificed in favour of the books. Most of the time, though, the books would be packed into envelopes & mailed off to Canada. Even after I settled into my first house I stockpiled the books & would pack a suitcase full of books, taking them home with me on each trip to Canada, rather than keeping them.

One thing I have never done, is give my books to a charity shop. Not really sure why, though. (I have never bought a book from a charity shop, either, but I know why that is – I’m a snob & would rather buy new. Also, I have a bit of an aversion to handling books that random people  have owned, handled & read). I know lots of people who do buy books from charity shops & I think it’s fantastic that they do, but just the thought of it makes my skin crawl. On the other hand, I just (most of the time) don’t see the point in hanging onto all those books that I know I will never read again, so why am I hanging onto them? We tried ebay & made pretty much nothing off the 5 books we did sell (never really believed we would make money, but had to prove a point. Why would someone pay more than a couple £’s for a book on ebay, then add postage on top, when they can go to Waterstones & buy brand new for not much more, or go to a charity shop & pay less?)

While trawling through the internet today I came across this article, which is what made me think about writing this post. I read all of the comments at the end & some baffled me, some I agreed with. I also found the list of most donated & most bought quite interesting. I wasn’t surprised about Dan Brown being # 1 in the most donated – I have read The DaVinci Code & it was crap, but all these years later, people are still buying his books en-mass. Why? The Stephanie Meyers books didn’t really surprise me, but one that did was Ian Rankin. But then, what is this list really indicative of? Are these the worst of the worst in popular reading, or is it just that these books sold so incredibly well that it’s  little wonder there are hoards of these titles in the charity shops?

So, while this is my dream (or something similar):

I suspect it will never quite become a reality.

So, what do you do with your books when you’ve finished reading them?

In case you were interested, below is the list of the most donated authors to Oxfam shops (with last year’s position in brackets):

1 Dan Brown (1)
2 Ian Rankin (2)
3 Jeremy Clarkson (8)
4 Stephenie Meyer (New entry)
5 Alexander McCall Smith (4)
6 Stephen King (New entry)
7 Maeve Binchy (9)
8 James Patterson (New entry)
9 JK Rowling (7)
10 Jackie Collins (New entry)

The Oxfam shop bestseller list (with last year’s position in brackets):

1 Stieg Larsson (2)
2 Sophie Kinsella (New entry)
3 Dan Brown (10)
4 Stephenie Meyer (4)
4 Terry Pratchett (8)
6 JK Rowling (3)
7 Mills & Boon (New entry)
8 Joanna Trollope (New entry)
9 Alexander McCall Smith (New entry)
10 James Patterson (7)


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