A story of giving at the jobcentre
Wendy Attwell, The Time Traveler's Wife
Everything about being part of World Book Night 2012 has been just wonderful!
Being part of the book-giving community across the world has made me feel really connected, part of something special. The build up, on facebook and twitter, seeing what other givers were doing and feeling, was an essential part of this. Labelling my books last night I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve. The same sense of anticipation and excitement. I've not felt that in years!
My plan was to stand outside the local Jobcentre and give out books to people who really could do with cheering up, and possibly don't read much. My partner Paul came with me, to lend a hand (and hold the umbrella!).
I was a little scared, and anticipating some rudeness from people who weren't interested.
Instead, I was pleasantly surprised.
No one was rude. A few people ignored me, or politely declined.
But most people gratefully accepted a book, with a big smile and a thank you.
I approached the kind of people I would usually avoid out of fear: young men, hooded and tattooed, exiting the Jobcentre scowling. Most of them said they didn't read much, but thanked me and said they would give this book a go.
I approached people with "Can I give you a free book?" and explained that "An organisation called World Book Night is giving out a million free books today." I also asked them "Do you read much?" (Most of them said 'no, or 'a little') "Well the idea of this is to get people into reading/to read more."
And it was that simple. People smiled and took a book.
I also showed them all the info inside, pointing to the WBN website address, and the book reference number.
All the books went within an hour. I am on such a high right now! I want to do this every day!
Two more authors' choices today. Markus Zusak & Audrey Niffenegger currently both have books in the top 10 (The Book Thief at number 4 and The Time Traveller's Wife at number 9). Markus' choices are listed in alphabetical order and Audrey's chosen to pick her favourite books from the current top 100.
Markus Zusak’s choices (supplied in alphabetical order)
Wonder Boys: Michael Chabon
The Half Brother: Lars Saabye Christensen
The Commitments: Roddy Doyle
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape: Peter Hedges
To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee
The Bell Jar: Sylvia Plath
Green Eggs and Ham: Doctor Seuss
I Capture the Castle: Dodie Smith
Maus: Art Spiegelman
Old School: Tobias Wolfe
Audrey Niffenegger’s choices (from top 100 list)
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Susannah Clarke
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
Catcher in the Rye – J D Salinger
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Persuasion – Jane Austen
Possession – A S Byatt
The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters
Captain Corelli's Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres
The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
Tomorrow choices from two of this year's World Book Night authors, Kate Atkinson and Mark Haddon.
This one’s really tricky. It spans 20 years, it’s hilarious but also heartbreaking, it’s very fresh and contemporary but also feels classic, like it will stand the test of time.
Obviously you can start by reading other books by David Nicholls – Starter for Ten or The Understudy, but One Day is widely acknowledged to be his best book.
So David’s kindly told us what his top 10 books are. These are the books he loves, returns to, gives and cherishes. What better way of getting a little further into your favourite authors minds than by getting to know the books that they love? So you could start dipping into one of these...
Tender is the Night, F Scott Fitzgerald
Franny and Zooey, JD Salinger
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
Goodbye, Columbus, Philip Roth
Hitchcock, Francois Truffaut
The Girls of Slender Means, Muriel Spark
Hangover Square, Patrick Hamilton
Collected Stories, John Cheever
The Patrick Melrose Trilogy, Edward St Aubyn
But none of them are much like One Day, so if you really do want something comparable where should you go next?
If you liked One Day because of the humorous view of contemporary life (and it perhaps reminded you a little of your own) try: Nick Hornby: Juliet, Naked or High Fidelity or Matt Beaumont: Small World
If you liked One Day because you cried your eyes out at the end try: Audrey Niffeneger, The Time Traveller’s Wife
If you liked One Day because it’s funny (and you liked the 90s setting too) try: Christopher Brookmyre, Quite Ugly One Morning
If you liked One Day because it’s just one of those amazing books that affects you and stays with you try: Chris Cleave, The Other Hand
And finally, our massively tenuous, completely off the wall suggestions*:
The Devil Wear’s Prada, Lauren Weisberger
Brokeback Mountain, Annie Proulx
Hard Sell, Jamie Reidy
Nicholas Nickleby, Charles Dickens
The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Anything by Jane Austen!
Next Friday: If you loved Fingersmith
*based on the fact that Anne Hathaway stars as Emma in the film of One Day and these are the other books she's been in adpatations of, we make a presumption that she liked and would recommend them all...
As a bookseller you get used to the frequently asked question ‘what’s your favourite book?’ or ‘if I should read just one book what would it be?’ – slightly more complicated ways of saying ‘I never know what to read and you should be able to help me’. For all that they were frequent questions they were still always surprisingly difficult to answer, there’s no one book cure all and even my favourite (The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford since you’re asking) I wouldn’t prescribe for all occasions. And even the act of telling someone your favourite book can be a surprisingly intimate thing to do, like admitting some secret crush on someone embarrassing. I know people who refuse to acknowledge a single favourite, others for whom it changes with their mood or the weather and some whose mind just goes blank when put on the spot like that.
For the first World Book Night booksellers, librarians, publishers and agents were asked to submit their favourite 25 books and an editorial committee of 25 people whittled it down to the final list. I both submitted my favourite 25 (which was so much harder than I expected) and was one of the editorial committee (which made picking my favourite 25 look like a walk in the park).
For the second World Book Night we wanted to get as many passionate readers involved in the choosing process as possible, but asking people to pick their 25 favourite books seemed a little too much. So we settled on asking for top 10s – the books you most like to read, share and give.
But when I came to choose my top 10 I really, really struggled whittling my favourite books down to just 10 and suddenly last autumn’s choosing process seemed like a ball. So we’ve devised a process that allows you to change your list as often as you want (believe me, I will be doing so constantly), you can drag and drop to re-order or just remove and add to your heart’s content*. All the top 10s will be compiled into a top 100 which ultimately help to inform the choice of this year’s editorial committee in choosing the 25 WBN titles.
And because I can, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my 25 favourite books. I’ll be constantly re-ordering these over the summer to make up my final top 10 (though the top 3 will probably remain pretty constant)
The Good Soldier, Ford Maddox Ford
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, Elizabeth Smart
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, Maggie O’Farrell
Time Traveller’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
Carter Beats the Devil, Glenn David Gold
Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Damage, Josephine Hart
Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
Heat & Dust, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff
Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
Passing, Nella Larsen
26a, Diane Evans
Atonement, Ian McEwan
I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon
The Pursuit of Happiness, Douglas Kennedy
The Secret History, Donna Tartt
Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin
God of Small Things, Arundahti Roy
LA Confidential – James Ellroy
* We’re going to be taking a snapshot of people’s lists at midnight on August 31, so you’ve got till then to be sure.
About the Book
This extraordinary, magical novel is the story of Clare and Henry who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. His disappearances are spontaneous and his experiences are alternately harrowing and amusing. The Time Traveler's Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare's passionate love for each other with grace and humour. Their struggle to lead normal lives in the face of a force they can neither prevent nor control is intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.
What we think
'Beautiful, heartbreaking and magical, Audrey Niffenegger's debut novel is an incredible love story that millions of readers around the world have already fallen for. Its one of our favourite books of the last decade and we're incredibly excited at the opportunity to introduce it to thousands more.'
What to read next...
Audrey Niffenegger has chosen Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus as her recommendation. A sample of it is printed in the back of World Book Night editions for The Time Traveler's Wife.
Where to get the WBN books
Read The Time Traveler's Wife now – borrow it from your local library or buy it from your local bookshop. More details here.
Also by Audrey Niffenegger
Her Fearful Symmetry
Novels in pictures: Three Incestuous Sisters, The Adventuress, The Night Bookmobile
Audrey Niffenegger is an exceptionally creative writer and visual artist who has achieved enormous success in both worlds. Her debut novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife, has sold nearly five million copies worldwide and has been translated into thirty-three languages to date. A Richard & Judy book club choice in the UK, it has been a huge bestseller all around the world. In the Daily Telegraph’s readers’ poll of the ‘Top 50 Books of All Time’ it appeared at no. 11. Niffenegger is also the author of two ‘novels-in-pictures’, The Three Incestuous Sisters (2005) and The Adventuress (2006), both published by Cape. Her graphic novel The Night Bookmobile was recently serialized in the Guardian and was published on the Cape Graphic list.
Visit Audrey's website audreyniffenegger.com