Wednesday, 23 April 2014

World Book Night No.10

Tonight is World Book Night.

World Book Night is an annual celebration of reading and books which takes place on 23 April. It sees passionate volunteers give hundreds of thousands of books away in their communities to share their love of reading with people who, for whatever reason, don’t read for pleasure or own books.

It is run by The Reading Agency - the charity with a mission to give everyone an equal chance to become a reader. Because everything changes when we read.

In the UK 35% of people don’t regularly read despite reading for pleasure being a globally recognised indicator in a huge range of social issues from poverty to mental health.

World Book Night is about giving books and encouraging those who have lost the love of reading – or are yet to gain it – to pick up a book and read. Line by line, paragraph by paragraph until they too have discovered the power of reading and the opportunities in life that reading can open the door to.

For World Book Night events in London visit the World Book Night Website

To mark the occasion, we're reblogging 24 classics (one every hour!) from our London Walks Reading List series…

The Great London Reading List! Essential London books that Londoners take away on holiday to remind them of home… books visitors should read before arriving in London… fact, fiction, poetry, all genres welcome. If you’re in the mood to recommend a great London bookshop, too, we’d love to hear it!  All suggestions to the usual address, please, or leave a comment below or get in touch via Twitter @londonwalks.

In the past we’ve added titles to The London Reading List that one could easily acquire with a single click or, even better, one visit to the bookshop (support your local bookshop!).

Today we’re introducing an element of sport to the proceedings. The thrill of the chase, if you will.

In short, we’re going to add a few titles for which you will have to browse.

The forgotten art of browsing, particularly in secondhand bookshops, is one of London’s great pleasures. The coffee emporia may have moved in on the Charing Cross Road, but there are still more good secondhand bookshops than you can shake a stick at here in London. Check them out. And should a shop assistant approach and ask “May I help you?” (very unlikely in London’s secondhand bookshops!) we can provide you with two answers with which to reply. You can either say:

“I’m looking for what I didn’t know I wanted” (the LW Blog definition of browsing)

Or you can say, “Do you have a copy of…”

Peter Jackson’s London Explorer

This paperback volume is a collection of cartoons by Peter Jackson. Jackson worked on the old London Evening News (defunct since 1980 when it was incorporated into the Evening Standard) and for that paper he crafted a lovingly illustrated series on the history of London in cartoon form. (The graphic novel is nothing new.)

The volume we came across (at Black Gull Books in East Finchley) has no date in the flyleaf, but the accompanying London Underground map in the back has no Victoria Line so we estimate it to be some several years before 1967.

Jackson’s illustrations (“with supporting text by W. Crawford Snowden”) covered a different area of London each week. Succinct and revelatory, his drawings bring London’s history to life with a mixture fact, fable and cartoon fun touches (such as King Charles II snuggling up to Nell Gwynn and her orange on the Fleet Street section, illustrated here).

Jackson’s encyclopaedic knowledge of London grew from his love of the metropolis and he was a renowned collector of historic prints, maps and London ephemera. He drew for the Evening News from 1940 to 1980 and his other series include London is Stranger Than Fiction and Somewhere to Go.

Jackson passed away in 2003.

World Book Night falls on the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth. To mark the occasion, here's the BRAND NEW London Walks Podcast, Shakespeare & London…

A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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