Paula Hawkins, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman and Robert Webb are among the authors donating thousands of books to Oxfam in a bid to boost sales in the charity's shops and raise money for its work.
Author Eric Ngalle Charles is launching the campaign #BooksChangeLives today (30th May) at the Hay Festival. Festival goers, authors and members of the public are invited to share the book that "changed their lives" on social media using the #BooksChangeLives hashtag, and donate any unwanted books to their local Oxfam shop.
To coincide with the launch, authors have been revealing the works which have impacted on them. Dolly Alderton, author of Everything I Know About Love (Fig Tree), picked The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Banks (Penguin). "It taught me so much about men and women – about love and relationship dynamics and the myths we're fed about romance," she said.
Hawkins, who wrote the blockbuster The Girl on the Train (Transworld), chose The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Vintage). "It was one of my A Level set texts and to my 18-year-old self, it was a revelation. The first overtly feminist novel I’d ever read…. The TV show is great, but as ever, the book is better," she said.
Meanwhile, Tracy Chevalier, best known for Girl with a Pearl Earring (The Borough Press) opted for Restoration by Rose Tremain (Vintage), Nick Hornby selected Anne Tyler’s Dinner at The Homesick Restaurant (Vintage) and Philippa Gregory chose Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (Penguin Modern Classics).
Also taking part in the campaign and donating thousands of books to Oxfam shops are Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette UK, Faber and Faber, Bloomsbury, Pavilion, Pan Macmillan and Profile Books, and authors Ruth Jones, Germaine Greer, Greg James Kate Garraway, Marcel Somerville, Jensen Button, Father of Daughters and Scummy Mummies.
Andrew Horton, Oxfam trading director, said the charity was "so grateful" for the "overwhelming show of support by so many talented and generous people in the book world".
"We estimate that the thousands of books donated to Oxfam by our friends in the publishing industry could raise over £25,000 from sales in Oxfam shops", said Horton. "The authors have also donated thousands of books personally. Book donations are vitally important to Oxfam, because they raise millions of pounds for our work helping the world's poorest people escape the daily grind of living with dirty water and hunger. These valuable book donations and the sales they generate, really will change the lives of people who desperately need help for good."
The money raised from the book sales contributes to charity work projects including clean water, food and shelter for people living in refugee camps, sending girls to school, fights for women to be paid a fair wage in decent working conditions and helping men and women farmers acquire the skills and materials they need to feed their families and work their way out of poverty.
Andrew Franklin, founder and managing director of Profile Books, said: "Oxfam has many friends in the book world, who support Oxfam's essential work in some of the most difficult environments on earth. It is a noble organisation delivering life-saving aid like clean water to the world's most profoundly disadvantaged people. That's why Profile Books, along with other publishers, has donated thousands of books to Oxfam to sell in its shops and raise much needed cash. I'm glad we can demonstrate our support for Oxfam in such a practical way. And we will continue to do so as long as the need is there."
Waterstones has also been a long-time partner of the charity and recently pledged to continue its support following the Oxfam sex scandal which came to light earlier this year, involving accusations of misconduct concerning some members of the charity's Haiti staff following the country's earthquake in 2011.