World Book Night 2016


Tomorrow night is World Book Night. In case you’re not aware of this brilliant initiative, here’s some info from the press release:

World Book Night 2016 is a celebration of words and reading which has become a hugely popular annual event. It sees passionate volunteers give out hundreds of thousands of books in their communities to share their love of reading with people who don’t read regularly or own books. This year sees a sensational line up of crime, poetry, non-fiction, Quick Reads, YA, historical fiction, and fiction in translation celebrating the enrichment that reading and books can bring to people’s lives, especially the 36% of adults who do not read for pleasure.[1]

The list for 2016 comprises of 15 books, including big-name authors such as Matt Haig, Jonathan Coe and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, as well as exciting new names like Holly Bourne and the debut novel by now-bestselling crime author Sarah Hilary. The list has been curated to reach specific audiences with different attitudes or approaches to reading, including adults and young people dealing with mental health issues (Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig and Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne) The Quick Reads title A Baby at the Beach Café by Lucy Diamond will be distributed to its target audience of vulnerable pregnant women and young mothers.

[1] Source: DCMS (2015) Taking Part 2014/15, Focus On: Free time activities p.7    

To help celebrate the event, some of the authors whose books will be given away have answered a questionnaire about their favourite reads, which books they’d give to reluctant readers and where they like to read. Here’s a selection I really enjoyed, perhaps they’ll inspire your next read or that of a reluctant reader in your life.


Ann Cleeves

3 favourite books of all time

This is almost impossible, changes daily and depends on what I’ve been reading most recently.

Le Grand Meaulnes (translated as The Lost Estate) by Alain Fournier is always on the list. I love the set-up, the sense of the lonely son of a country school master and his friendship with the older boy who becomes a fellow student. The plot is preposterous but readers are left with the idea of adventure, loyalty and mystery.

I’ve recently re-read Simenon’s Maigret novels and I’m a big fan. Simenon can say so much with one simple sentence, and there are no monsters in his crime fiction. I hope the recent television adaptation will bring in fresh readers.

To bring some cohesion to my choice I’ll add Side-tracked by Henning Mankell. Translated fiction is still my reading passion. Mankell’s hero, Wallender, is a very believable cop and Mankell does brilliantly visual first scenes.

3 books you would give to a reluctant reader

I’d suggest anything on the Quick Reads list. Quick Reads are books that have been specifically commissioned for people who are new to reading for pleasure. The content is very definitely for grown-ups, but the language is relatively simple and the chapters are short. The scheme has been going for ten years now so there’s plenty for people to choose from. For instance, this year there’s a story by Lucy Diamond about pregnancy, an edited version of Malala’s story and a crime novel by me! I wouldn’t want to recommend specific titles because reluctant readers have their own tastes and preferences like everyone else. Part of the joy of reading is wandering into a library and taking a chance with a book. So instead of giving 3 books, I’d give a library ticket.

3 outside places you like to read

I’ll read anywhere. Of course we all enjoy holiday reading and there’s something wonderful about knowing that I can spend all day losing myself in a novel, without feeling guilty (though I still think I should be writing…) I don’t do beach holidays much though so often my outside holiday reading will be somewhere a bit chilly. Luckily, Busta House Hotel in the North Mainland of Shetland has quite a sheltered garden. I sometimes snatch time when I’m at home to read in my own garden. A cup of tea, a lunchtime sandwich and a novel – what could be nicer? For my 60th birthday my husband and I took an expedition through Bolivia. He’s a passionate birder, so there were a lot of stops while he and the others tried to sort out various species of hummingbirds or to pin down the antbirds. I did spend quite a few hours reading by the track in the rain forest waiting for them.


SJ Parris

3 favourite books of all time

The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
A Place of Greater Safety, Hilary Mantel

3 books you would give to a reluctant reader

1: Talking It Over, Julian Barnes
2: Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris
3: The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett

3 outside places you like to read
BFI cafe, Southbank
St Martha’s Hill, Guildford
Carbis Bay beach, St Ives


Sarah Hilary

3 favourite books of all time

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

This was the first time I found myself feeling as if I’d crawled inside the pages of a book. I was right there — hiding in the window seat with Jane, standing on the stool at the orphanage, hearing the mad laughter in the walls. It taught me that books can reach out and find you, wherever you are in your life.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

This book changed my (writing) life. I fell in love with its conceit and slyness. So many people have a bad opinion of it — especially those who’ve never read it — that defending its brilliance made me realise how powerful books can be.

The Outsider by Albert Camus

Uncompromisingly brilliant. A flawed hero brings down the wrath of the world by refusing to play the game. It’s passionate, it’s powerful, it’s timeless — and there’s not a word wasted anywhere in it.

3 books you would give to a reluctant reader

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams for its anarchic humour.

The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore for its chilling, touching brevity.

Honeydew by Edith Pearlman for the sheer joy of short stories.

3 outside places you like to read

Park benches, seaside promenades, cable cars


Leigh Bardugo

3 favourite books of all time

No matter how many times I’m asked this question, I have trouble choosing. Today I’ll say:

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Dune by Frank Herbert

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

3 books you would give to a reluctant reader

The Shadow Hero by Gene Yang. This graphic novel tells the story of the first Asian-American superhero. It’s hilarious, thrilling, and poignant too. Plus, if your reader gets hooked, Gene has a fantastic body of work to sustain that interest.

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older invites readers into a magical New York and takes on themes of creativity, appropriation, and power while never scrimping on adventure. This is a great one for young artists who may not quite believe in their gifts.

For younger readers, The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher is a witty, diverse middle grade mystery with an even more charming sequel.

3 outside places you like to read

I’m really an inside person, but I like to sit in the shade by the lemon tree in our back garden with a new book. It’s also a relaxing place to revise my own work, though I’m pretty sure my neighbour is sick of hearing me read the same chapters aloud over and over. The Huntington is probably my favorite place in Los Angeles for an afternoon of reading and exploring. The gardens are massive enough to get lost in, and the drive there clears my head.


Holly Bourne

3 favourite books of all time

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – I honestly believe reading this book makes you a better human. It’s a blueprint on how to have a soul.

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison – I wouldn’t be an author if it wasn’t for Louise Rennison and these books. She was the first author who shone a mirror on my life, reflecting my teen world and the ridiculous notion that teenage girls can be FUNNY.

How To Be A Woman, by Caitlin Moran – This book, without a doubt, changed my entire life and lit my feminist flame.

3 books you would give to a reluctant reader

One Day – It’s funny, on-point, romantic and sad – with incredible dialogue. There’s a reason the entire London underground seemed to be reading it in 2009

Station Eleven – I’ve been literally shoving this into the hands of everyone. It’s an incredible literary book, but with a gripping premise that will keep anyone up until silly o’clock to get to the end.

The Fault In Our Stars – YA fiction is great for reluctant readers as it’s so plot-focused. I defy anyone not to be totally bewitched by this one, and John Green is a great gateway drug into the amazing world of teen fiction.

3 outside places you like to read

In my parents’ garden – it’s where I devoured every single Harry Potter book each summer.

Anywhere outside where people are not – As I don’t like being distracted when I’m into a book.

Brockwell Park – if I’m forced to be around other humans, this is my favourite park in London to be in.