Brighton & Hove 2013 World Book Night was more of a late-afternoon-early-evening affair, but was enjoyed by more than 100 people at the events and quizzes at Jubilee Library and staff members Sally Gilbanks-Sowden and Allan Winter took to the streets to gift hundreds of free books around the city. A few people had seen the news item on BBC Breakfast in the morning and were delighted to receive a brand new book and to talk about great reads and libraries in general.
On Boundary Road in Portslade, one single Mum with two small children had never been to a Library before and was very excited to hear about Baby Boogie and the affordable or free activities that are on offer. She took “Me before you” by Jojo Moyes and she and her two children are going to join the library this week. One older lady took a copy of “Red Dust Road” by Jackie Kay and was excited to know about Council Connect/Silver Surfers. She has wanted to email her grandson in Australia and when Sally and Allan explained we could help her set up an email account and show her how to use it she was elated and said this had been a great day for her.
At Jubilee Library, local poet Paul Stones spoke eloquently about what to do with bad books – his suggestion that we irreverently burn books that offend us or throw boring books on the floor was surely sacrilegious considering the venue (!) but his controversial remarks were made with great humour and charm and provoked a lively debate with his audience. Local authors also spoke, on the tricks used in first paragraphs, and on why reading difficult books, or trying a graphic novel for a change is good for your brain – studies show more parts of your brain ‘light up’ reading more challenging books and keep you healthier longer! And finally, after weeks of secrecy and suspense, the title of this year’s Cityreads book was announced, with a treasure hunt and a quick sample of reading aloud in a group. We can look forward to Terry Pratchett coming to Brighton later in the year – look out for the program of events that will surround the Cityread “Guards! Guards!”
And remember, the commitment to spreading a passion for reading doesn’t just last for one night; you can become a reading ambassador all year round. If you love reading, you know what a sublime experience it can be, how much pleasure you can get from the story, how bereft you can feel when it’s over and how much richer you can be from the experiences you’ve read about. Being a reading ambassador means nothing more than helping to spread your love of reading as widely as possible. And there are a few simple things you can do to help.
- Share the reading experience
- We all know people who, for whatever reason, have fallen out of the habit of reading (or never got into it in the first place). Give them your favourite book (or one you think they’d really love) and tell them what it means to you with a no pressure suggestion that they might like to give it a go.
- Give more books
Books make great gifts, and not just at Christmas. Giving someone a book can mean so much more than giving a pair of socks, or a scarf. You can choose your favourite novel, the latest cookbook by their favourite chef, a guide to far flung places or just something to make them smile. And books don’t just have to be for special occasions. Why not take a book instead of chocolates, flowers or wine next time you’re going to someone’s house for dinner?
- Join your local library
Libraries lend free books! Visit your local library, join and start borrowing books and you’ll be helping to keep them open. We’ve also got loads of resources for helping you start your own book group or your own read aloud group- just get in touch. Sharing books within your community is greener, and you’ll find just as much inspiration for new reading adventures in your library as you would in a good book shop.
- Support your local bookshop
That said, good local bookshops are amazing places, treasure troves full of undiscovered gems with knowledgeable staff. But, like many local shops and services, they’re under pressure from rising costs, supermarkets and the internet. Without them communities are poorer and high streets bleaker, so if you love books support your local bookshop too: explore their corners, buy something you wouldn’t normally read but might just love, attend an event and spread the word about how great they are.
Susy Baker – Library Officer.