Wednesday, November 09, 2011

World Book Night 2012

I've just seen the titles selected for World Book Night 2012. They are:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Vintage)
The Player of Games by Iain M Banks (Little, Brown)
Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown)
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson (Transworld)
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Harper Collins)
The Take by Martina Cole (Headline)
Harlequin by Bernard Cornwell (Harper Collins)
Someone Like You by Roald Dahl (Penguin)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (Penguin)
Room by Emma Donoghue (Pan Macmillan)
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (Little, Brown)
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber)
Misery by Stephen King (Hodder)
The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Transworld)
Small Island by Andrea Levy (Headline)
Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Quercus)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Pan Macmillan)
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Vintage)
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O?Farrell (Headline)
The Damned Utd by David Peace (Faber)
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman (Transworld)
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (Penguin)
Touching the Void by Joe Simpson (Vintage)
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (Vintage)
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Transworld)

That strikes me as a very odd list. Pride and Prejudice? That book has probably done more to ruin good reading habits than any other book. How many schoolchildren, especially boys, have been forced to read that bloody book at just the wrong moment in their lives and have thereby formed a negative view of reading? It's the last book you'd want to be promoting in this sort of event. Likewise Dickens. Those aren't entry level books. It's simply muddle-headed to put them in this sort of promotion.

And as for the others, I fear there are far too many "book club" titles like The Time Traveller's Wife and Room and Small Island and The Book Thief, which you see multiple copies of in every charity shop on the High Street. I'm somewhat ambivalent about WBD anyway - I don't think there's much to be gained by giving the impression that books can be considered a free commodity to be given away in their thousands - but this list doesn't help to enthuse me.

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