Using reading to tackle life's big challenges: sensitive issues set to be explored on World Book Night 2019

12 December 2018

The Reading Agency today announces the list of books to be given away on World Book Night, 23 April 2019. The varied titles, donated by publishers large and small including Penguin Random House, Canongate and Jessica Kingsley Publishers, include a diverse selection of commercial and literary fiction, non-fiction and young adult, each selected to inspire people who don’t regularly read to pick up a book.

This year’s list features a number of titles whose authors don’t shy away from conversations around difficult issues, including several books for young adults. Issues explored within the 2019 book list include mental health, bereavement, domestic violence and police brutality. With titles such as Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. by Malcolm Duffy and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The Reading Agency aims to highlight how reading can help people of all ages tackle some of life’s big challenges.

Other titles on the list include the bestselling The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, memoir Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand and Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon.

For the third year running, a targeted approach to World Book Night book distribution will see The Reading Agency working with public libraries, prisons, colleges, care homes, youth centres, mental health groups, charities and other organisations to get books into the hands of new readers on 23 April, when events celebrating reading will take place nationwide. Organisations can apply to take part from today via

The books

The complete list of titles donated by publishers for World Book Night 2019:

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Macmillan Children’s)
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Vintage)
The Forgiveness Project by Marina Cantacuzino (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)
Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon (Usborne)
Shadows in Heaven by Nadine Dorries (Head of Zeus)
Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. by Malcolm Duffy (Head of Zeus)
Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand (Hodder & Stoughton)
Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon (Headline)
Turtles All The Way Down by John Green (Penguin Random House Children’s)
The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths (Quercus)
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby (Penguin General)
Himself by Jess Kidd (Canongate)
Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen (Usborne)
The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson (Headline)
The Children by Ann Leary (Corvus)
Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley (Allen & Unwin)
Die Last by Tony Parsons (Cornerstone)
The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley (Pan Macmillan)
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Michael Joseph)
The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith (Transworld)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Walker)
Artemis by Andy Weir (Ebury)
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (Penguin Press)

Sue Wilkinson, Chief Executive, The Reading Agency says:

“Our research shows that reading has the power to tackle life’s big challenges: it can build social mobility, combat loneliness and support our mental health and wellbeing. We are delighted to include a great range of books on our 2019 World Book Night list, which we hope will inform and inspire readers of all ages, and encourage discussion about these important issues.”

“Our aim with World Book Night has always been to reach new readers and we are delighted to be working with public libraries, prisons, colleges and many other partners – all of whom do a terrific job of getting the books into the hands of people who don’t already read.”

Jess Kidd, whose book has been donated by publisher Canongate, says:

“I am thrilled that Himself has been chosen for World Book Night 2019. This incredible project perfectly celebrates the transformative power of reading, finding new readers of all ages throughout our communities. Reading makes a difference to our communities and our own selves. That my debut novel should be part of World Book Night is one of my proudest moments.”

After World Book Night 2018, results from a follow-up survey showed the positive impact of the targeted approach to book distribution by organisations to get people reading. 97% of participating organisations rated their experience of taking part as excellent or good and 95% thought that the books donated by publishers in 2018 helped encourage people to read more often.

Samantha Higgins from Seacombe Library, a World Book Night giving institution in 2018 said:

“Anything that promotes the joy of reading and offers a free, interesting book to this community is a highly positive event. Poverty is a major problem within this community so a free event relieves the pressure and doesn’t discriminate against anyone. Reading and access to books should be available to all and this event helped to achieve that and highlight the magic and powerful benefits of reading for pleasure; survival during difficult times and self-development.”

Get involved

Apply for your organisation to take part in World Book Night 2019


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