This Saturday (23 April) is World Book Night in the UK. Thousands of people, including your truly, will be sharing their love of reading by giving free books to friends, colleagues, neighbours and complete strangers. The idea is to give a book to someone who would not normally read a book for pleasure.
In my case, I’ll be distributing copies of Sharon Bolton’s”Now You See Me”. I chose that book partly because the author is new to me and partly because it ties in with my personal interest in British crime fiction.
I’ve always enjoyed books; even browsing in a bookshop can give me enormous pleasure. In days gone by, bookshops were a common sight on the High Streets of every town. Sadly that’s no longer the case. If you want to browse in a bookshop today, your choice is likely to be limited to a branch of Waterstones. If you want to drown your sorrows, you’ll probably do so in a branch of Wetherspoon since independent pubs are closing at an even faster rate than independent bookshops. So much for free market capitalism giving the consumer greater choice!
Thankfully there are still some independent bookshops left. Many are somewhat quirky and are often run by people who are a bit eccentric, but surely that’s part of the attraction. Buying a book online may be efficient and economical, but it can be a soulless experience when compared to visiting a bookshop.
Books matter, so I hope as many people as possible will support World Book Night and also find time to visit their local bookshop.
On a personal note, I am intrigued to hear about the latest novel by the political journalist Andrew Marr. Children of the Master is a political thriller in which the main character is a Labour MP called… David Petrie! Marr describes the character as “a self made Scot with a working class background and a troubled personal history.” Is that a fair description of this David Petrie? As another fictional politician famously said, you might very well think that, I could not possibly comment.