This weekend bookshops across the UK are celebrating their communities as part of The Great Get Together, marking one year since the murder of MP Jo Cox.
The weekend aims to encourage people to talk to each other and bring communities together. In total there are now over 117,000 of events taking place this weekend, from street parties to picnics on the village green.
Currently 26 branches of Waterstones are hosting Great Get Together events, with more reportedly signing up each day. Branches so far signed up include Bradford, Doncaster, Durham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Guildford, Hastings, Haywards Heath, Hemel Hempstead, Hereford, Hudderfield, Hull, Lancaster, Leeds, London - Chiswick, London - Piccadilly, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Norwich, Ormskirk, Sheffield, Stratford-upon-Avon, Swansea, Thanet, Wakefield, Yarm and York. Most will be holding book swaps, where the public can bring along a favourite book and swap it for another chosen by staff or other customers, over refreshments, with some also holding raffles and donating the proceeds to some of Jo's favourite charities.
“To commemorate Jo Cox’s invaluable work within communities and to celebrate a belief that ‘we have more in common’, we’re extremely proud that many of our bookshops will be supporting The Great Get Together," said Sandra Taylor, Waterstones' head of PR and events. "We all understand the power that books have to change lives for the better and this weekend is an opportunity to show that bookshops can do the same. Getting together in a bookshop, meeting other readers and talking about books seems a great way to bring people together and it’s, of course, what we enjoy doing most.”
Independent bookshops are getting involved as well. East London independent Newham Books is supporting events in Clayhall on Saturday and in Newham on Sunday, which are inviting the community to turn out, bring and share food with one another and get to know their neighbours. The retailer will be selling Brendan Cox’s book, Jo Cox: More in Common (Two Roads) at both events and making a donation to the Jo Cox Foundation from the proceeds of book sales.
In the wider publishing community, head offices also have Great Get Togethers planned. Hachette today (16th June) has a book swap and bake sale taking place, bringing together all the publishers in the building, while online and catalogue retailer The Book People have an event at their head office too.
The activity coincides with publication of Jo Cox: More in Common (Two Roads), a personal account of Jo's life told by her husband Brendan. It published earlier this week on 13th June.
Marketing and publicity for the book has been extensive, with rival tabloid papers The Mirror and The Sun this week printing a joint editorial, reported the BBC. Other promotion has included interviews by Brendan Cox across TV and radio. The book even received an endorsement from former US president Barack Obama, who said of Jo she "made the world a better place".
Brendan Cox said: "Jo’s killing was designed to silence her voice, but has instead made sure that millions of people get to hear it, it was supposed to unleash hatred but has instead created an outpouring of love, and it aimed to divide communities but has instead bought them together. As part of my effort to maintain Jo's voice, this week I published Jo Cox: More in Common. This is a book about how Jo lived, what drove her and her values. I hope it does her some justice."
All his royalties are going to the Jo Cox Foundation.