Wednesday, 23 April 2014

World Book Night No.7

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.

The Crimson Petal and the White
by Michael Faber (2002)

“Michel Faber has produced the novel that Dickens might have written had he been allowed to speak freely.” Thus opened The Guardian’s review for the acclaimed 2002 novel The Crimson Petal and the White. “Where once the Victorian novel was lace-like with decorous gaps and tactful silences, now it is packed hard with crude fact and dirty detail… a supremely literary novel.” The following passage struck London Walks guide Richard III over Christmas. (No lounging about full of pud in front of Her Maj’s speech then falling asleep during The Great Escape for the London Walks guide. No siree. Just like the Windmill Theatre, they never close.) Over to Richard III:

“This exquisite piece of writing right at the end of The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber sums up the London by Gaslight walk perfectly:

‘Night has fallen over St. Giles, over London, over England, over a fair fraction of the world. Lamp-lighters are roaming the streets, solemnly igniting, like an army of Catholic worshippers, innumerable votive candles fifteen feet in height. It's a magical sight, for anyone looking down on it from above, which, sadly, no one is.

Yes, night has fallen, and only those creatures who are of no consequence are still working. Chop-houses are coming to life, serving ox cheeks and potatoes to slop-shop drudges. Taverns, ale-houses and gin palaces are humming with custom…’

Richard III guides the London by Gaslight Pub Walk.

(The Crimson Petal and the White is published by Canongate)

And because World Book Night falls on Shakespeare's 450th birthday, here's the BRAND NEW episode of the 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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