Wednesday, 23 April 2014

World Book Night No.21

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.







Recently we’ve been focusing on guide books here on The London Reading list – by which we mean books written  by London Walks guides. Click HERE and HERE to catch up.


This week’s guide book is a different affair altogether. Fifty one years old, and not the sort of thing you’d be able to grab at Foyles every day of the week, the official guide book for the Festival of Britain is a fabulously evocative piece of work.

It opens with photographic portraits of the Patrons of the Festival – King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. And the whole thing is bookended with advertisements for the popular products of that austere age. Noteworthy is the full page for Heinz, which takes great pains to point out that “The British House of Heinz” had been established for 55 years, predating both world wars and presumably hoping to rid the name of any connotations linking it with our then recent foe – the Festival of Britain celebrated peace in our time, but the “P.R Disaster” still presented a clear and present danger in the world of cold economics.

The ad for No.7 cigarettes features a posh couple at the races, and suggests that glamour and riches are simply a puff away. All one needs do is change one’s brand of gasper.

The ad for Cow & Gate baby food states: “We all know a Royal Baby [capitals sic] is bound to be given the best that is obtainable.” Could they be referencing the birth of Princess Anne in August of the previous year?

The content of the guide maps out the South Bank location of the festival. The South Bank as we know it today was laid out to accommodate this “Tonic For The Nation”, a celebration for Londoners at a time when rationing and shortages, as well as bomb sites, still dominated London life.

The stated aim in the guide is “to bring to the British way of life some enrichment that will endure for long after the Festival year is over.” And indeed the Royal Festival Hall remains one of the capital’s finest concert halls. Not only that, but it is thanks to the Festival of Britain that we can enjoy the run of this part of our riverside.

The site of The Festival of Britain can be seen on the Somewhere Else London walk every Tuesday and Saturday



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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