Wednesday, December 05, 2007

World Book Day

Why do U.S. schools, libraries and booksellers not celebrate this day? Sponsored by UNESCO, World Book Day is supposed to be a “worldwide celebration of books and reading.” Organized activities abound in the U.K. and Ireland, but I can find no references to any celebrations in the U.S. or Canada. Why aren’t the U.S. chain bookstores getting in on this? How can they pass up a chance to sell more DVDs and coffee (oops, I mean books)?

U.K. World Book Day programming includes Spread the Word, a Web site that offers a list of “100 Books to Talk About.” Directed at book clubs, this is a list of “hidden gems,” novels written by living writers that have not received enough attention (according to the organizers, I suppose). It’s a great list. I was humbled to find that I had only read three of the books on it (The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill, Wolves Eat Dogs by Martin Cruz Smith, Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link), but several are on my list of “must read someday soon.” What a lot of work is ahead of me! I am only afraid that not all of these books have been published in the U.S. yet (or maybe never will be).

The Spread the Word Web site provides a great little utility for finding specific types of books that are on the list. You can search by genre, story location, style, and length. A brief review is included. You won't need me once you discover this site.


Megan said...

Looks like a bunch of interesting titles on the list. I've got a few of them on my shelves, but lamentably, have only read one thus far - Water For Elephants - which was excellent. Thanks for sharing, never hurts to have even more good ideas for good books to read!

Anonymous said...

What a list! More proof that I'll never run out of books to read. I've read only about ten on that list and I definitely saw a few I want to read -- "Gathering the Water," for one, looks first-rate. Hope we'll get it here in the U.S. before too long.

Happily, I knew almost all of the American books and had reviewed several of them. I found Sue Monk Kidd's "The Mermaid Chair" rather irritating indeed (implausible romance for middle-aged woman who has everything *except* a hot monk named Thomas), but I heartily recommend Kent Haruf's "Eventide" and its prequel, "Plainsong." They are lovely novels.

Also, for people who like Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels (I do!), Allan Mallinson's first book about a nineteenth-century British cavalry officer, "A Close-Run Thing," is excellent. It's clear from his acknowledgments that O'Brian helped him craft it. But O'Brian died and Mallinson's later books are nowhere near as good. Post hoc ergo prompter hoc? I think it's not a fallacy in this case!

heather (errantdreams) said...

Well, I guess this just goes to show how little importance most American institutions seem to place on books. =/

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