Penguin Random House and Hachette titles dominate the World Book Night 2018 list, which this year has a spotlight on mental health.
PRH books make up eight of 23 titles on the list, including My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal (Penguin), with Hachette boasting seven titles, including Martina Cole’s Dangerous Lady (Headline) and Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney (John Murray). Four books from independent publishers including Cassava Republic and Head of Zeus will also be given away. Pan Macmillan, Usborne and Bonnier are also represented on the annual Reading Agency initiative which takes place on 23rd April.
Organisers have curated a “diverse selection of commercial and literary fiction, poetry, non-fiction and young adult” for the public, with a focus on mental health. The literacy charity aims to "harness” the link between reading and mental health through its selection this year including Little, Brown imprint Piatkus’ Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, The Recovery Letters by edited Olivia Sagan and James Withey (Jessica Kingsley Publishing) and Open by presenter Gemma Cairney (Pan Macmillan).
For the second year, a “more targeted approach” to distribution will see the Reading Agency working with public libraries, prisons, colleges, care homes, youth centres, mental health groups and other charities “to get books into the hands of new readers”.
Other PRH titles to be given away are At My Mother's Knee by Paul O’Grady (Transworld), Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey (Penguin), The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (Vintage), The Beach Wedding by Dorothy Koomson (Cornerstone), One of us is Lying by Karen M McManus (Penguin Random House Children’s), Carry on Jeeves by P G Wodehouse (Cornerstone) and You Don't Know Me by Imran Mahmood (Michael Joseph).
Our Summer Together by writer and book reviewer Fanny Blake (Orion) is one of the Hachette titles in the line up, along with My Everything by Katie Marsh (Hodder) and Satellite by Nick Lake (Hachette Children’s).
As well as Cairney’s Open, Pan Macmillan also has Gilded Cage by Vic James on the list while Usborne has Will Hill's After the Fire and Bonnier’s contribution is YA thriller Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart.
Also included in the list are four titles from indie publishers: Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika (Cassava Republic), The Detective’s Daughter by Lesley Thomson (Head of Zeus), Kith by Jo Bell (Nine Arches) and What the Dog Knows by Cat Warren (Scribe).
Sue Wilkinson, chief executive of the Reading Agency says: “We know from our work on the Reading Well programme that there is a powerful link between reading and positive mental health. We are delighted to be able to include on the 2018 World Book Night list several titles that deal with this directly as well as others that we hope will lift readers’ moods or help them confront life’s difficulties.”
De Waal, who recently explored the lack of working class writers in a BBC Radio 4 documentary, described the scheme as “a great opportunity for readers to discover new books and for books to find new audiences”. She added: “Reading and understanding different lives and experiences has never been more important.”
After WBN 2017, results from a follow-up survey showed that the Reading Agency’s more targeted approach to book distribution “enabled organisations to help get more people reading”. Around 90% of participating groups rated their experience of taking part as excellent or good and 90% said they thought that the books donated by publishers helped encourage people to read more often.
Apryl Hammett, face-to-face development officer for Essex Libraries, who took part last year, said: “This was one of the best World Book Night events I had been part of. It was completely inclusive and really encapsulated what World Book Night is all about – the love of reading – in some cases the forgotten love of reading."
In 2015 WBN attracted criticism for not including any books by black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) writers, which Nikesh Shukla described as a “wasted opportunity” and the scheme’s project manager Rose Goddard called a “great shame”, partly attributing it to the funding model and submissions process.
For more information, visit the World Book Night website.