Wednesday, 23 April 2014

World Book Night No.18

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 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.







The Glory Game (1972)

By Hunter Davies
(Mainstream Publishing)

It seems like an age ago now, but there was once a time when football (by which me mean soccer) was a topic of conversation reserved only for those in-the-know. A codified world, largely working class, almost totally masculine.

Then came Nick Hornby’s book Fever Pitch.

Hornby’s eloquent memoir of the trials and tribulations of life as an Arsenal supporter crossed over into the literary mainstream, garnered great reviews outside the sports pages. And deservedly so. It is a great book, by a great writer.

But then the deluge.

In the wake of Fever Pitch, football too entered the middle class mainstream. Before long, every celeb, every telly actor, every politician was shoehorning references to “footie” into their public utterances.

If you’d like to know what the world was like before such working class heroes as Tony Blair (ahem) and David Cameron (ahem-ahem) were spouting off about their love for Newcastle United and Aston Villa (!) then The Glory Game is the place to begin.

In the two decades before Fever Pitch, Hunter Davies’s warts-and-all portrait of life behind the scenes at North London’s Tottenham Hotspur Football Club was the only book on football. The only one. Sure there were “memoirs” of retired pros, formulaic, ghostwritten affairs intended as Christmas stocking fillers. But nothing insightful, nothing that the clubs didn’t want us to know.

Davies’s book changed all that.

Published in 1972, Davies had enjoyed unprecedented access to the club to research The Glory Game. This access included the dressing room, the training ground and even the players’ homes. Davies witnessed rivalries and conflicts first hand. Everything ended up in the book.

“His accuracy,” wrote former Arsenal and Scotland goalkeeper Bob Wilson, “is sufficiently uncanny to be embarrassing.”

If Davies’s book was such a revolution, one might ask, then why didn’t it start its own avalanche of copycats? The answer is simple. His portrait of life behind the scenes at a major football club was deemed by everyone inside the game to be so explosive that no writer was ever allowed such unfettered access to a club again. In today’s climate, with every club running a well-oiled publicity machine, it is unlikely that such access will ever be granted.

The Glory Game, therefore, stands alone as a fly-on-the-wall account of the internal politics of football. And it remains a classic 40 years on.





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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