Wednesday, 23 April 2014

World Book Night No.11

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 www.worldbooknight.org



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



The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)
By G.K. Chesterton

"He walked on the Embankment once under a dark red sunset. The red river reflected the red sky, and they both reflected his anger. The sky, indeed, was so swarthy, and the light on the river relatively so lurid, that the water almost seemed of fiercer flame than the sunset it mirrored. It looked like a stream of literal fire winding under the vast caverns of a subterranean country."


The events of G.K Chesterton's outlandish, and at times lurid tale of anarchy, treachery, double-bluff and paranoia, cast an apocalyptic pall over London – the familiar, sedate old city seems on the brink of conflagration by its mere proximity to the narrative of Chesterton's classic.

Gabriel Syme has been recruited by a shadowy branch of the authorities to root out anarchist cells in a political tinderbox London of the early 20th Century. He gravitates toward bohemian Saffron Park, a thinly-veiled fictionalization of then-fashionable Bedford Park in the borough of Ealing. Famed residents of this “most significant suburb of the last century” (as John Betjeman) once described it included W.B Yeats, the actor William Terris, and the painter Camille Pissarro. Elsewhere in fiction it provides the model for Biggleswick in John Buchan’s Mr. Standfast.

In Saffron Park, Syme encounters the wild Lucien Gregory, and is led into the underworld of political London. A literal under-world, as it turns out: the scene in which Syme "descends" into the nightmarish realm of the anarchists, via a seemingly innocent and ordinary London pub, is a vivid set-piece.

Written at a time of great political upheaval (the run up to the First World War) the suspicious, cloak and dagger nature of the piece is, for many, an apposite tale for our security conscious millennial world of today. Chesterton himself, when asked to explain the more complex twists of the labyrinthine narrative, simply pointed to the subtitle of his most famous novel: The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare.

You can buy The Man Who Was Thursday (published by Penguin) HERE.


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 www.walks.com.









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