World Book Night to Give Away One Million Books

By Maryann Yin Comment

On March 5, 2011, 20,000 givers will help donate one million books to U.K. readers for World Book Night.

Jamie Byng, Canongate Books managing director and World Book Night committee chairman, conceived the event back in 2009. A group of booksellers, librarians, authors, broadcasters and others have chosen a list of 25 books to give away (the complete list follows below). Only 20,000 people will be invited to give away books for the program. Prospective givers have until January 4th to sign up–they can go to the World Book Night website and explain in 100 words or less why they want to participate.

John Le Carré‘s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold made the cut, and he had this statement: “No writer can ask more than this: that his book should be handed in thousands to people who might otherwise never get to read it, and who will in turn hand it to thousands more. That his book should also pass from one generation to another as a story to challenge and excite each reader in his time–that is beyond his most ambitious dreams.”

Several high-profile people from the arts industries have already signed up to give away books, including: Damon Albarn, Dave Eggers, Colin Firth, David Gilmour, Antony Gormley, Seamus Heaney, Damien Hirst, Nigella Lawson, Mary Portas, J.K. Rowling, and Tilda Swinton.

Kate Atkinson – Case Histories (Black Swan)
Margaret Atwood – The Blind Assassin (Virago)
Alan Bennett – A Life Like Other People’s (Faber/Profile)
John Le Carré – The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (Penguin)
Lee Child – Killing Floor (Bantam)
Carol Ann Duffy – The World’s Wife (Picador)
Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Vintage)
Seamus Heaney – Selected Poems (Faber)
Marian Keyes – Rachel’s Holiday (Poolbeg/Penguin)
Mohsin Hamid – The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Penguin)
Ben Macintyre – Agent Zigzag (Bloomsbury)
Gabriel García Márquez – Love in the Time of Cholera (Penguin)
Yann Martel – Life of Pi (Canongate)
Alexander Masters – Stuart: A Life Backwards (Fourth Estate)
Rohinton Mistry – A Fine Balance (Faber)
David Mitchell – Cloud Atlas (Sceptre)
Toni Morrison – Beloved (Vintage)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Half of a Yellow Sun (Fourth Estate)
David Nicholls – One Day (Hachette/Hodder)
Philip Pullman – Northern Lights (Scholastic)
Erich Maria Remarque – All Quiet on the Western Front (Vintage)
C.J. Sansom – Dissolution (Pan)
Nigel Slater – Toast (Fourth Estate)
Muriel Spark – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Penguin)
Sarah Waters – Fingersmith (Virago)