Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Choose a million books to give away on World Book Night 2012

Following the success of World Book Night 2011, during which 1 million copies of 25 titles were given away to members of the British public (and I scored a free set of the chosen 25 from the Times), World Book Night 2012 has been scheduled, appropriately enough, for April 23rd 2012, the same day as UNESCO’s International Day of the Book (presumably a little like the Day of the Jackal without the killings and the assassination attempts).

This year, the 25 titles that were given away were chosen by an expert panel of authors, publishers, booksellers and other figures from the literary world.  A panel will again select the final 25 titles for next year’s event but there will be a large amount of input from us, the reading public.

Everyone who registers on the World Book Night website will have the opportunity to submit a list of their ten favourite books (fiction or non-fiction).  Following the cu-off date of 31st August for submissions, the 100 most popular choices will form a long list which will then be cut down to the chosen 25 by the learned panel in the autumn.  It is likely that they will have the latitude to go off piste for a few of the selections but, for the most part, what the UK public chooses will form the backbone of the final selection.

The World Book Night organisation has just released the current Hot 100 in order of popularity and it makes for interesting reading.  As at this afternoon, the Top Ten  comprises:

1.         To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
2.         Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
3.         The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
4.         The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
5.         American Gods – Neil Gaiman
6.         The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
7.         Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
8.         The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
9.         Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
10.       Wuthering HeightsEmily Brontë

With a couple of hardy perennials like Tolkien, Austen and Brontë, the Top Ten doesn’t bear a huge amount of resemblance to most UK “Top Books” lists I’ve seen, which do normally seem to be quite consistent.  I don’t know whether it is down to the kind of self-selecting voter for World Book Night, the relatively small sample size so far or some other reason but it is quite striking.  Maybe people are selecting books they would want others to read and not just their own personal favourites.  It is also interesting that Harry Potter only comes in at number 11 at present – I would have expected it to be significantly higher.

Some other interesting statistics (as at today):

Number of titles voted for: 4814
Number of titles with more than 1 vote: 943
Number of non-fiction titles in top 100: 2
Number of children's books in top 100: 3
Number of 'classics' in top 100: 25
Author with most books on the list: Neil Gaiman
Authors with more than 1 book on the list: Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, Haruki Murakami, Ian McEwan, JRR Tolkien, Khaled Hosseini, Terry Pratchett
Number of authors in top 100: 85

I haven’t yet submitted my Top Ten but will be doing so before my summer holiday at the end of August.  As you’d expect, my thinking on this is constantly shifting but my current proposed selection is, in no particular order:

1.         The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
2.         The Mating Season – P.G. Wodehouse
3.         The Sword of Honour Trilogy – Evelyn Waugh
4.         James and the Giant Peach – Roald Dahl
5.         The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco
6.         The Dark is Rising cycle – Susan Cooper
7.         Animal Farm – George Orwell
8.         A Study in Scarlet Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
9.         Dracula – Bram Stoker
10.       The Dumas Club – Arturo Perez Reverte

I think this is quite a nice list and I hope some of them get onto the final 25 (or at least the Top 100).  But what do you think?  I will reserve the last place on my Top Ten list for a wild card selection from you.  Comment and tell me a book that you think should be on my list and which of my list you would replace it with.  The best (in my not so humble opinion) idea will replace one of my choices.  

1 comment:

KarenSi said...

I quite like the fact that the public get to vote this time. Will have to have a think as to what I would choose in my top ten. For a change I have actually read every book on the current top ten.

I haven't read that many of yours. I think I would put in "A Prayer For Owen Meaney" by John Irving. I recently loaned this to a friend and through talking to her about it I remembered all the things I loved about it. Not sure what I would replace it with. Maybe the Roald Dahl. I love Roald Dahl but James and the Giant Peach is one of the few that just never appealed to me.