Happy Saturday, readers! Today I have a very exciting post for you... As promised, a run-down of the World Book Night Flagship event at the Shaw Theatre in London. Over the past couple of weeks I have been lucky enough to be involved in WBN and publishing posts such as author interviews and my own reading journey. Hence, I was really looking forward to attending the Flagship event, as many authors that inspire me were attending, and it was set to be a fantastic celebration of what World Book Night aspires to do.
The Shaw Theatre is a beautiful, modern venue with a lovely foyer area and an even lovelier theatre. It was fantastic to see so many people there; all of whom I knew loved books as much as I do. I saw many people from different publishing companies, PR agencies, charities and booksellers. Waterstones was even there selling all of the books from the shortlist, and there were plenty of people buying the wonderful books that we would be hearing about later that night.
In the theatre, we were welcomed by Sue Wilkinson MBE, the Chief Executive of the Reading Agency, who gave an inspiring talk about everything that the Reading Agency does to encourage people to start reading, the importance of World Book Night and the integral value of books in themselves. The excitement in the venue grew as we were given a run down of the authors we would be hearing about that night, and the reading journeys we would discover as the evening went on.
David Almond was the first author on stage, and it was not only a thoroughly enjoyable and inspirational talk, but the passion he felt for books, reading and writing came across so powerfully. I am a huge fan of David Almond's novel A Song for Ella Grey and it was so wonderful to hear about him explain what an honour it is for him to write for young people. There were only a handful of young people in the audience (including me) and the way he addressed criticisms he hears every day for example young people don't read anymore, teenagers don't enjoy books, they don't care about literature was very emotional; I hear things like that said too, and it made such an impact to hear them addressed by one of my favourite authors. David Almond also spoke about his own reading journey and the part imagination has played in both his reading and writing throughout the years. He made some incredibly interesting points about how reading and writing can be merged to be seen as one entity; how imagination has not only affected his writing but his reading also. The continued importance and unfortunate dismissal of libraries was also discussed, and there were several murmurs of approval from the audience as we all concurrently agreed that libraries are an invaluable part of all of our reading lives. David Almond called libraries one of the most important human institutions, and writing a product of humanity's desire to 'create something beautiful'. It was a wonderful start to the evening, and demonstrated not only the importance of World Book Night but of authors like David Almond who care so passionately about what he does.
We heard many other fabulous authors talk about their individual reading journeys and read out sections from their own work. In my opinion, there's nothing quite like listening to books you have read and loved being read out loud by the person who wrote the words. It is also wonderful watching the passion as they read out the story they prepared so intricately months, years before. It's kind of like going to see your kid at their first ever ballet show or school play. You're like woah, I made that. Books are people's babies, and the readers share and invest in the experience as much as the author does. Sarah Winman's first chapter of When God Was a Rabbit and Irvine Welsh's reading held me utterly engrossed and I believed every word they said when they told us that they wouldn't have written their work without the books they had read. It was also amazing to hear
Elizabeth Fremantle read a section of The Queen's Gambit and talk about the 'superpowers' of reading. I thoroughly agreed when she pointed out that people who read are the most attractive people, and the people who are best to fall in love with ;)
One of the highlights of the event was definitely hearing Akala perform his epic poem; he is a totally awesome guy and a huge inspiration for young people everywhere. The fuse of poetry and rap was a beautiful combination and it was definitely something I had never heard of before. Lynda La Plante had us all in stitches recounting the moment when she thought a ghost knocking at her door when it was in fact an audiobook of Wuthering Heights; the moment when Heathcliff is yelling Cathy's name across the moors. Blaine Harden's story about how at college Conrad's Heart of Darkness changed his mindset about nearly everything, and opened up a world where words meant something. But most of all, it was just a bloody good read, and I think that sometimes that's all it takes for someone to start reading. It's not always about deep meaningful discussions or a moment of sudden inspiration, but the times when a book simply speaks to you.
And lastly, Annabel Pitcher's impromptu poem of her reading journey, from Flat Stanley to Emily Brontë and Harry Potter was absolutely incredible, and put into words so perfectly not only the point to World Book Night, but the books and authors that make it such an incredible, inspiring and potentially for many people, who don't read, a life changing event.
I'd just like to thank you all for sticking with me the past couple of weeks, SO MANY of you have checked out my WBN posts and I am so grateful for all the people who have shared it and spread the word! THANK YOU xxx
I am attending a very exciting event on Monday... So I will keep you posted on that!
Check out all the WBN links below:
Until next time :)
Hehe sneaky little add-on on the end here.... A STREETCAT NAMED BOB <3