Monday, 7 March 2011

A spark for literature

Reading books for the pleasure of it doesn't often make the national news. So, lots of people knew about this event and were ready to scoop those volumes out of my hands as soon as I hit the streets.

(If you're wondering what this is all about, please take a look at my previous post by clicking here.)

1,000,000 free books to be given away? I'm not sure that the titles made any difference. Lots of people were determined to get a copy, any copy. Some were blatantly acquiring quite a collection.

And while it was totally inspiring and interesting to talk to lots of people about books and reading and writing that night, I was more interested in surprising people who either didn't know about the event or who don't read books.

I had a few surprises myself. When I asked one man if he'd like a copy he yelled the loudest NO I have ever heard in my life. I responded with the quietest ok I have ever heard in my life and thankfully, we walked off in different directions.

The Big Issue sellers on the main street in town, were delighted because they had heard about it on Radio 4 and thought they had missed their chance because they were busy working. One lady told me she didn't want to read about Jesus. I didn't like to tell her that I don't think he's in the one I was giving.

All the others seemed genuinely pleased and surprised to receive a book out of the blue. I was as well, when someone insisted that a "giver" should receive a book too. I came home with a volume I haven't read by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera.

Whatever the critics say, there was a buzz that night as if someone had struck a spark for literature. And I hope that means it will become a yearly event.

Here's the link if you want to read more about the event.