Authors including Matt Haig, Dreda Say Mitchell, Holly Bourne and Sathnam Sanghera are to headline the World Book Night flagship event in London on Saturday 23rd April, which also marks Shakespeare’s birthday and the 400th anniversary of his death.
Chaired by author and contributing editor of The Bookseller, Cathy Rentzenbrink, the panel will discuss the place of books in their lives and read from some of their favourite titles. The event will run in partnership with the British Library and The Reading Agency.
The event will showcase World Book Night's “core values” to inspire people to read more, encourage them to share their enjoyment of reading with others and celebrate "the difference that reading makes to all of our lives".
The gala evening will then continue with a 'Late at the Library: World Book Night celebrates Shakespeare' birthday party at the British Library with special guests, performances, music and food and drink in the Entrance Hall and entry to the exhibition 'Shakespeare in Ten Acts'.
In addition to the event in London, World Book Night will host regional events at public libraries nationwide. Pan Macmillan is celebrating World Book Night with the first Big North Book Run at the Great North Museum in Newcastle, with World Book Night and Quick Reads authors Ann Cleeves and Lucy Diamond, while World Book Night author J. Paul Henderson will be inspiring students at Oldham College. At Peterborough Central Library, author Tim Wilson will discuss the Brontë sisters, and Verbal Arts Centre in Derry, Northern Ireland, will celebrate World Book Night as part of its Reading Rooms programme. Other giveaway events will be occuring all over the country on World Book Night and will be announced and promoted on the its website.
World Book Night 2016 will see volunteers give out "hundreds of thousands" of books in their communities to "share their love of reading with people who don’t read regularly or their own books". This year's line up includes crime, poetry, non-fiction, Quick Reads, YA, historical fiction, and fiction in translation, and celebrates the "enrichment that reading and books can bring to people’s lives, especially the 36% of adults who do not read for pleasure", the organisers have said.
Sue Wilkinson, c.e.o. of The Reading Agency, said: “World Book Night is one of the highlights of the year for The Reading Agency, our partners and, we hope, for the thousands of people who are given one of the wonderful World Book Night books. Our goal is to reach the 36% of the population who don’t currently read for pleasure because, as our research has shown the gift of a book really can get them started on their reading journey.
"This year we are particularly looking forward to marking Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary with a special gala evening with the British Library, as well as events in libraries across the country. We hope that all this amazing activity will ensure that 23rd April is an evening we will all long remember; the night when many more people realise that everything changes when we read."
Roly Keating, chief executive the British Library, said: “It is very fitting that World Book Night 2016 should fall on the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, and the British Library is delighted to be partnering with The Reading Agency to celebrate this literary landmark and our Shakespeare season, which also includes our upcoming exhibition, 'Shakespeare in Ten Acts'.
"It is wonderful to be a part of all the other exciting public library events taking place across the country. We look forward to welcoming visitors to our World Book Night Late at the Library event, which will feature , performances, live music and much more.”
The list for 2016 comprises of 15 books, including top authors such as Matt Haig, Jonathan Coe and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, as well as exciting new names like Holly Bourne and the debut novel by crime author Sarah Hilary. The list has been criticised for the lack of ethnic diversity among authors chosen.
In a new initiative for 2016 publishers will be encouraged to give out copies of their own stock on Friday 22nd April within their neighbourhoods.