Today, 25,000 book givers will give away half a million free books in 6,000 communities across the United States. Launched in 2012 in the U.S., World Book Night coincides with similar efforts in the United Kingdom which celebrate and promote reading with the distribution of free books.
If you happen upon a World Book Night giver, you may be handed one of 38 different World Book Night 2014 titles chosen by an independent panel of booksellers and librarians. Each of these books is paperbacks printed especially for World Book Night, and each World Book Night volunteer is shipped a box of 20 of his or her chosen book to hand out to individuals in the community. All of this is facilitated by the authors, who waive their royalties, publishers, who pay the production costs for the books, and bookstores and libraries, who coordinated delivery of the books to the individual book givers.
My teen daughter and I participated in World Book Night 2013, when we gave away 20 copies of David Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty One Day (Rowan was hoping for The Lightning Thief, but givers don't necessarily get their first choices). This year, we're handing out Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Learn how you can be a World Book Night book giver in 2015 at WorldBookNight.org.
Sean Pidgeon's Finding Camlann is a sparkling literary thriller that combines history, literature, archaeology, geography, geology, mapmaking, creation myths, and even a believable love story in revealing the origins of the legend of King Arthur.
Photo: W.W. Norton
Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky's Autobiography of a Corpse compiles eleven irreverent short stories from early 20th-Century Russia that combine the madness of Nikolai Gogol with the philosophical crises of existentialism.
Photo: New York Review Books
If anybody can write a feel-good novel about suicide, it's Nick Hornby. That novel was A Long Way Down, Hornby's 2005 story of four people - a talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl and a mother - who find each other on New Year's Eve on the roof of Topper's House, a well-known jumping-off point for the suicidal in London.
A Long Way Down will be a movie this year, as happens to novels when you're Nick Hornby, and I'll be interested to see if they do it justice (hint: read the book first). As you may or may not know, Hornby was also tapped to adapt Cheryl Strayed's Wild for the screen, another film out this year.
This week, the 2014 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist of six was announced with the following books contending for the £30,000 award, to be announced at a ceremony in London on June 4:
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
- The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
- The Undertaking by Audrey Magee
- A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize) was formed in 1991 when a group of journalists, reviewers, agents, publishers, librarians and booksellers noticed a distinct lack of women in the Booker shortlist. Learn more about the prize and its history at womensprizeforfiction.co.uk.
Ben Marcus's new collection Leaving the Sea reads like a compilation of demos and false starts, of stories that Marcus has not yet expanded towards the length of a novel. Marcus's cryptic, aggressive prose will appeal to fans of The Flame Alphabet, but might also reveal an author struggling to emerge from a tonal rut.
After the death of his son, Thomas Tessler locks himself in his room for three years, surfacing only late at night to buy food at the 24-hour store. His wife, desperate for his return, hires a "rental sister" to coax him out of his reclusive state, but she may have signed up for more than she bargained for when Megumi and Thomas begin to get close.
Minae Mizumura's A True Novel is an homage to the frame tale, the literary technique in which one story is told within another, as with Samuel Richardson's epistolary novel Clarissa or Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. All the tropes of a nineteenth-century British novel are at work here and sing in harmony with a different kind of story, one of mid-twentieth century Japan.
Photo: Other Press
Photo: Little Brown and Company
Ken Kalfus' novel Equilateral is the story of Sanford Thayer, a well-regarded British Astronomer whose great obsession is the construction of an enormous equilateral triangle in the Egyptian desert, a perfect geometric signal to the Martians of their neighbors on the planet Earth.