Norfolk joins in book celebration

PUBLISHED: 06:30 07 March 2011 | UPDATED: 09:51 07 March 2011

World Book Night at the Millennium Library in Norwich.

World Book Night at the Millennium Library in Norwich.

Archant © 2011

Budding bookworms got their hands on hundreds of free volumes at the weekend as dozens of events took place across Norfolk to mark the UK’s first World Book Night.

People were encouraged to curl up with a good read on Saturday night to celebrate the ambitious project, which saw one million books given away nationally by 20,000 ‘givers’ from a selection of 25 varied titles.

They included One Day by David Nicholls, Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights, Toast by Nigel Slater and John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.

Ben Macintyre’s real-life second world war thriller Agent Zigzag was also among the works being given out, and the author gave a talk about his creation at a special World Book Night event on Saturday evening at Norwich’s Millennium Library, where hundreds of free books were given away. There was also a jazz band to entertain people and special book displays.

Sarah Hassan, assistant head of service for Norfolk Library and Information Service, said: “We had a fantastic evening and the talk was fantastic. There was a great atmosphere, and we had a really good mix of old and young people.

“The idea is that after people read their free books they pass them to somebody else so the giving goes on.”

Also in Norwich, on Saturday afternoon, Phyllida Scrivens, from Thorpe St Andrew, gave copies of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights to young performers from the Maddermarket Youth Theatre and the Theatre Royal Youth Theatre Company.

She said: “I loved this book when I read it last summer, and I was very excited to be able to hand on this subtle and absorbing adventure tale to young people in Norwich.”

Library staff in Wymondham dressed in pyjamas were on hand to provide browsers with their own book reviews, while handing out 48 copies of 12 books from the World Book Night reading list.

The event, which took place on Saturday afternoon, also offered visitors booked themed refreshments such as orange slices in honour of Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and chocolate fingers for Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.

Community librarian Rachel Harriss said: “I think it’s getting a buzz about reading and getting reading back on the agenda for people. A lot of people are busy but people are able to dip into reading.”

Members of the Forncett Reading Group, near Long Stratton, used their event on Saturday night to support East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH). Copies of Nigel Slater’s Toast were on offer as well as Stuart – A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters. The EACH charity bookshop from Wymondham also sent about 200 assorted books for sale.

Those who decided to hit the town in Diss were also not left out as resident Ruth Noble took on a pub crawl with a difference handing out 48 copies of the Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood to thirsty punters.

World Book Night celebrations started in King’s Lynn with the town’s Waterstone’s store staying open late on Saturday to offer 48 copies of Fingersmith and hold a book group meeting so members of the public could share their favourite read over a cup of tea.

Dedicated ‘giver’ Graham Evans, from Downham Market, took his box of books to a 40th birthday party in London. He chose All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque from the list of available titles.

He said: “I read it for the first time when I was doing my O-levels. It doesn’t hold back. It’s gritty, realistic and a startling book that everyone who is anti-war should read.”

To coincide with World Book Night, Norfolk County Council’s library service is running a campaign throughout March called the Great Big Read. The scheme is promoting 12 different books and aims to help busy people find time to read by making it easier for them to find a work they will enjoy.

For more information see the library service’s Facebook page.

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