World Book Night announces gala celebration at The British Library on Shakespeare's 400th anniversary



World Book Night 2016 falls on Saturday 23 April, Shakespeare’s birthday and the 400th anniversary of his death. Announcing their flagship event, World Book Night and the British Library will present a special gala evening beginning with a stellar panel of authors and other guests - each discussing the place of books in their lives and reading from some of their favourites.

Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of last year’s Sunday Times bestseller The Last Act of Love will chair the panel featuring World Book Night authors past and present, including Matt Haig, Dreda Say Mitchell, S. J. Parris, Holly Bourne and Sathnam Sanghera. Run by national charity The Reading Agency, World Book Night’s flagship event will showcase the charity’s core values in one evening: to inspire more 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 then continues with a Late at the Library: World Book Night celebrates Shakespeare birthday party at the British Library with special guests, performance, 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 high-profile regional events at public libraries nationwide. Pan Macmillan are 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 their Reading Rooms programme. Hundreds of other giveaway events will be happening all over the country and will be announced and promoted on the World Book Night website.

World Book Night 2016 is a celebration of words and reading which has become a hugely popular annual event. It sees passionate 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 own books. This year sees a sensationalline up of crime, poetry, non-fiction, Quick Reads, YA, historical fiction, and fiction in translation celebrating the enrichment that reading and books can bring to people’s lives, especially the 36% of adults who do not read for pleasure.[1]

The list for 2016 comprises of 15 books, including big-name 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 now-bestselling crime author Sarah Hilary. The list has been curated to reach specific audiences with different attitudes or approaches to reading, including adults and young people dealing with mental health issues (Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig and Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne) The Quick Reads title A Baby at the Beach Café by Lucy Diamond will be distributed to its target audience of vulnerable pregnant women and young mothers.

Initiative for 2016 publishers will be encouraged to give out copies of their own stock on Friday 22 April within their neighbourhoods. This will increase the number of books being given away as part of the celebrations and highlights the unique opportunity World Book Night presents for givers to become better connected with their local communities.

Sue Wilkinson, CEO of The Reading Agency, says:

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 23 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, says:

 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.”

 Quotes from World Book Night 2016 authors:

 Jonathan Coe, author of The Rotters’ Club, says:

 “I’m delighted to be part of World Book Night 2016. Reading is the best possible way to foster imagination, empathy and mutual understanding, and never have those qualities been more needed than at the present time.”

S.J. Parris, author of Treachery, says:

"World Book Night does such a fantastic job of sharing the joy of reading so I’m thrilled to be taking part next year, especially as it will be a very special commemoration of Shakespeare's anniversary. My novels come from a love of stories and of Tudor history and I'm excited to have the chance to share both with new readers on 23 April."

Holly Bourne, author of Am I Normal Yet?, says:

"I am totally stunned and yet epically delighted to be part of World Book Night. It's such an incredible event and I can't believe Am I Normal Yet? is going to be part of it. Hopefully it will get people excited about reading and feminism - my two favourite things!"

Lucy Diamond, author A Baby at the Beach Café, says:

“I'm so thrilled and proud to have my Quick Read book, A Baby at the Beach Cafe, included in the 2016 World Book Night line-up. As someone who has always turned to books for comfort, escapism, education or simply joy, it's a great honour to know that my book will be passed on to others as part of this innovative, dynamic initiative.”

Ann Cleeves, author of Too Good to be True, says:

“I was delighted to discover that Too Good to be True had been chosen as a World Book Night Title. Of course I've always believed that reading should be available to everyone and if the book brings some people back to reading for pleasure it'll be a huge honour.”

 J. Paul Henderson, author of Last Bus to Coffeeville, says:

 “I was happy as a sandboy when I heard that Last Bus to Coffeeville had been selected for World Book Night.  It was as if I’d won the Booker.  Okay, I won’t get to eat a fancy meal in the Guildhall or win any prize money, and I have to share the honour with fourteen other writers. But in some ways being selected for World Book Night is better than winning the Booker:  it means that someone out there thinks that my book might well kick-start a reading habit.”