Well, I wasn't going to be able to take part in the 'real' World Book Night, and I liked Nicola's idea very much. So I signed up.
Old Hall Bookshop in Brackley, Northamptonshire. You can see from the picture what a pleasure it is to shop in this lovely building with its well-stocked shelves and its airy friendly book-smelling atmosphere. I scurried around, sniffing out favourite books that I'd read and loved. I wanted to give mainly to teenagers, so I chose those sorts of books. Here are the two I picked....
The third book I decided to give away (for a slightly younger age) was one of my own. It was a strange experience, buying my own book in a bookshop, but I was so grateful that they stocked it!
So what next? Go and chat to lovely booksellers Christine and Carey, of course. They were very happy to hear what I was doing. Here they are behind the desk with my purchases.
|Carey Percival and Christine Bridger of The Old Hall Bookshop|
I scanned the passengers boarding the Edinburgh-bound train minutely. Who would it be? How would I know? How would they respond to a complete stranger shoving a free book at them? I decided to have a sit down and a cuppa and let everyone settle in their seats. Then, as the train reached Yorkshire, I picked up my brown paper bag and made my way up through the whole swaying, rattling train from one end to the other. I was nervous, I'll admit. It was such a strange thing to be doing--but I was excited too. There were lots of teenagers. Most of them were asleep. This was not promising. Wake a sleeping teen at your peril is my experience. I worked my way down again. Ah, here was an awake one. I made my offer.
"Er, no thanks. I've already got a book." Not a promising start. I was downcast. Perhaps this wouldn't work. Then I spotted a blonde boy chatting to his mum and dad. Did he like books, I asked him.
"Ooh, yes,|" he said in a fab Geordie accent. So Hootcat Hill was duly handed over, to big smiles and round-eyed wonder that an author should be giving him one of her own books, 'signed and all!" Then there were three more refusals. Quite polite, but they obviously thought I was mad. Then a solitary girl, immersed in a magazine. Was that her preferred reading matter? No. She liked books very much and took Troubadour by Mary Hoffman with alacrity. One to go. Two giggly young ladies. Were they interested? Definitely! So they tossed a coin (shades of Nicola Morgan's book, Wasted) for Sigrun's Secret by Marie-Louise Jensen. The dark-haired one won, but she's going to lend it to her friend when she's finished. What a result!
And then, lovely readers, my World Book Night adventure took a surreal turn. I'd been tweeting back and forth with @EffieMerryl since we were both doing WBN giveaways on trains. Now this is where it gets weird.... We were both going in the same direction. Could it be that she had a seat booked on my train? In the same carriage? We both thought so for a few glorious minutes. But it was not to be. However, Nil Desperandum! We arranged to meet on Platform 2 of Newcastle Station (where my train was stopping for a second and hers was leaving from), so that she could hand over one of her WBN books and we could meet. It was a bookish Brief Encounter. We hugged, we snapped each other on phone cameras, and we waved farewell in in a cloud of steam (oh alright, I made the cloud of steam up). It took all of three minutes.
And I am now the proud owner of Kate Atkinson's Started Early, Took My Dog, a book I've been wanting to read for AGES and was intending to take on holiday with me anyway. Thank you, Effie (I wish I'd still had a WBN book to give YOU!). And thank you Nicola Morgan for putting this brilliant, amazing, book-giving, reading-enhancing, fantabulous idea into all our heads!