On Friday night I was lucky enough to go to the World Book Night launch in Trafalgar Square. Last year I applied to be a giver, meaning that I had to tell the organisers which of the 25 books I wanted to give away, and why. I chose Toast, by Nigel Slater, which I read just after Christmas. I have another post planned to tell you all about who I gave it to, which I will post soon! World Book Night was on Saturday, and all givers were invited to apply for tickets to the launch night on Friday. I was lucky enough to get tickets, and I went with Rob.
The first photograph there is one of Rob’s, taken of me in front of the stage. I’m standing a bit ridiculously, I don’t know why! I like the other one though, because I like my hair in it! I thought I’d share some of the photographs I took, there were lots of authors there, as well as a few more famous faces.
Graham Norton was the compère, and he was very good! I love his Friday night show, and so it was very exciting to see him on the stage!
The first two photos are of DBC Pierre, who wrote a book that I read for university called Vernon God Little, and Rupert Everett. DBC Pierre read from Bleak House, and Rupert read from Travels With My Aunt by Graham Greene.
These two photos are both of Sarah Waters, who read from her own book, Fingersmith. I have read some of Fingersmith, but I haven’t finished it. My friend Vicky lent it to me (along with another of Sarah Waters’ novels, The Night Watch), but there were a few pages loose in her copy, and a couple were missing. So I started it knowing that I was going to have to try and get my hands on a copy that had the missing pages, but didn’t actually finish it. I must try though, because it’s very good!
Alan Bennett! I got to see him reading from his book, A Life Like Other People’s, and he was just so good. It was worth how cold I got just to hear him read. As Graham Norton said, many people are referred to as national treasures these days, but Alan Bennett truly is one!
Lemn Sissay read Tennyson’s poem Ulysses and Boris Johnson, who came on to quite a few boos, decided to read about a hangover from Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. It was a very funny passage, and he also tried to win the crowd round by referring to London as the greatest city on earth. I’m not sure that it worked!
Mark Haddon read from Stuart: A Life Backwards, by Alexander Masters, about a homeless man. It was very good, and I now want to read it! The lady there is Monica Ali, who wrote Brick Lane, so thanks to those who helped me out and reminded me who she was! I can’t remember what she read from though! (Samantha has reminded me that Monica Ali read from To the Lighthouse.)
Margaret Atwood and Edna O’Brien also read; Atwood read from her novel The Blind Assassin which I really want to read, and O’Brien read a short story from her forthcoming collection.
Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring, read from Beloved by Toni Morrison, another book I read at university, and Suggs read a John Betjeman poem. I’ve tried to remember what it is, but all I can remember is that it mentions a London cemetery in it. I’ve researched, but I can’t find it, so again, if you know what it is, please remind me! (Again, I’ve been reliably informed that it was To the Lighthouse – thanks Samantha!)
Other than Alan Bennett, David Nicholls was my favourite person to listen to! He read from his novel, One Day, which is one of the 25 books on the list, and he read so well! The part he read was a letter, and he just read it perfectly. I really want to read it, and now that I know of its existence, I keep seeing it everywhere! It’s also being made into a film, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, so I have to make sure I read it before the film comes out!
Philip Pullman read from Northern Lights, his book that is one of the 25 titles. I’ve read the His Dark Materials trilogy a number of times, so it was quite exciting to hear the author reading from it. Also very exciting was seeing Hayley Atwell and Stanley Tucci – Stanley Tucci more so, because I love him! I’ve like him in almost everything I see him in, which is one of many reasons why I don’t want to see The Lovely Bones! They read Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love, the song by Cole Porter, which was unusual as they were the only people to read something that wasn’t a poem or a book. They totally sold it though! And then when I got home, Stanley Tucci was on The Graham Norton Show, which was extra exciting!
Finally, we saw Nick Cave, and John Le Carré. Le Carré read from his novel The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, which I have heard lots of good things about, and which is also on the list of 25. Nick Cave read from Lolita.
This is a screenshot from The Culture Show from Saturday night; a special programme to launch World Book Night. I was watching it, and I saw myself! Literally nobody else would have known it was me, and I know it’s a bit sad to get excited about it, but I did, so I thought I would share it with you! That’s me, circled! Rob had gone to the toilet, and I was waiting for him, pacing up and down. I spotted myself straight away!
Being in Trafalgar Square in the early evening was great; the sun went down (and with it any warmth it had been providing), and the light was lovely. The words “World Book Night 2011” were beamed onto Nelson’s Column, and I couldn’t stop taking photographs of it as it got darker and darker!
I had such a good time, despite being freezing cold! Like I said, at some point I will post details of how I distributed my 48 books. I hope you’ve enjoyed this diversion from usual proceedings on my blog. Let me know if you’ve been involved in World Book Night, or if you were one of the one million people who received a book. I got a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera on Friday night, so that has been added to my ever-growing pile of books to read!
Until next time