gal-dem, Stephen King, Jack Monroe and Pam Ayres to Feature on World Book Night 2021 Booklist

09 December 2020

  • The ultimate list of “Books to Make You Smile”
  • 90,000 books to go to organisations across the country
  • Featuring Jane Fallon, Nina Stibbe, Mohsin Zaidi, Shahroo Izadi, Kit de Waal, Fanny Blake, E. R. Braithwaite & more
  • Audiobooks narrated by David Tennant, Samantha Spiro and Tanya Reynolds
  • Applications open for organisations to receive books

Save the date: Friday 23rd April 2021

The Reading Agency, in partnership with Specsavers, has today announced the titles that will feature on the booklist for World Book Night 2021. The list is themed “Books To Make You Smile” in response to the impact of Covid-19 on mental health and wellbeing.

World Book Night, the annual celebration of reading taking place on 23 April, celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2021 by giving away 90,000 books in various formats – almost twice as many as last year. The Reading Agency’s mission is to spread the joy of reading to those who don’t regularly read for pleasure or have access to books, by distributing books to organisations such as prisons, hospitals, youth centres, care homes and mental health groups. Applications are open until January 29th for organisations to receive books to be given away on World Book Night. Last year books went to York City Football Club, The Disability Foundation, Rethink Mental Illness, and Crisis, among others.

This year’s titles, from publishers including Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Pan Macmillan and Head of Zeus, include a diverse selection of books for adults and young people. From Elevation by master storyteller Stephen King to Pam Ayres’ poetry collection Up in the Attic, and from Liverpool legend James Milner’s Ask a Footballer to Good Food for Bad Days by prominent food writer and campaigner Jack Monroe – the WBN 2021 booklist promises to have something to make everyone smile. Good-humoured anthologies “I Will Not Be Erased”: Our stories about growing up as people of colour by gal-dem, the award-winning magazine created by women and non-binary people of colour, and Common People: An Anthology of Working-Class Writers edited by Kit de Waal are included. Non-fiction titles with a mental wellbeing focus are The Kindness Method by Shahroo Izadi; The Anxiety Survival Guide by Bridie Gallagher, Sue Knowles and Phoebe McEwan and the book of inspirational quotes published by Trigger Publishing, Pocket Book of Happiness.

Following the success of last year’s digital offer, the World Book Night 2021 booklist will continue to feature audiobooks, as The Reading Agency seeks to make reading available to the widest possible audience. This year’s audiobooks include Emma by Jane Austen, narrated by Tanya Reynolds and BBC Audio’s Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, narrated by David Tennant and Samantha Spiro.

An exclusive addition to the 2021 booklist to mark the 10th anniversary is the specially commissioned book, Stories to Make You Smile, published by Simon & Schuster and in partnership with Specsavers. The collection will be edited by writer, former Costa Book Award judge and Quick Reads editor Fanny Blake, and features authors Richard Madeley, Jenny Éclair, Helen Lederer, Mark Watson, Dorothy Koomson, Eva Verde, Vaseem Khan, Veronica Henry and Rachel Hore among others.

World Book Night 2021 Titles

  • A Dutiful Boy by Mohsin Zaidi (Vintage)
  • Common People: An Anthology of Working-Class Writers by various authors, ed. by Kit de Waal (Unbound)
  • Ask a Footballer by James Milner (Quercus)
  • Elevation by Stephen King (Hodder)
  • Emma by Jane Austen, narrated by Tanya Reynolds (Penguin Random House Audio)
  • Faking Friends by Jane Fallon (Michael Joseph)
  • Good Food for Bad Days by Jack Monroe (Pan Macmillan)
  • “I Will Not Be Erased”: Our Stories About Growing Up as People of Colour by gal-dem (Walker Books)
  • Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, narrated by David Tennant and Samantha Spiro (BBC Audio)
  • Pocket Book of Happiness (Welbeck Balance)
  • Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe (Penguin General)
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Penguin Random House Children’s)
  • Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square by Heidi Swain (Simon & Schuster)
  • Stories to Make You Smile by various authors, ed. by Fanny Blake (Simon & Schuster)
  • Taking Up Space: The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change by Chelsea Kwakye and Ọrẹ Ogunbiyi (Cornerstone)
  • The Anxiety Survival Guide by Bridie Gallagher, Sue Knowles and Phoebe McEwen (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)
  • The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (Quercus)
  • The Kindness Method written and narrated by Shahroo Izadi (Pan Macmillan)
  • To Sir With Love by E.R. Braithwaite (Vintage)
  • Up in the Attic by Pam Ayres (Ebury)
  • We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen (Andersen Press)
  • Where Are We Now? By Glenn Patterson (Head of Zeus)

Debbie Hicks, Creative Director of the Reading Agency, said: “We’re thrilled to be announcing our World Book Night 2021 booklist, and hugely grateful to all the wonderful publishers and authors contributing. This year, we saw first-hand how World Book Night and the #ReadingHour brought people together during a very challenging time – so it makes perfect sense for us to continue to build on this with our 2021 theme, alongside our brilliant partner Specsavers, sharing books to make the nation smile.”

Dame Mary Perkins, co-founder of Specsavers, said: ‘‘The Reading Agency always does a wonderful job of bringing people together through the love of reading, which continues to be one of our most popular past-times, increasingly so since we have had to spend more time at home. We are delighted to be working with them to support and encourage literacy and good vision so that people can continue to enjoy reading, and hope that this exciting new collection of stories will bring smiles to the faces of people across the UK.”

Author Stephen King, said: “I’m very pleased that Elevation has been chosen for World Book Night. It’s one of my favorites, probably because it suggests that good people can still bridge the divide between differing points of view and find a path to acceptance.”

Becky Albertalli, author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda said: “I’ve long admired from afar the fantastic work that World Book Night does each to year to encourage reading for pleasure and how it brings together people from all backgrounds by celebrating books that cater for anyone and everyone. Simon and his story, unsurprisingly, remains incredibly close to my heart and therefore I’m delighted to see him continue to be introduced and embraced by readers as part of such an important initiative.”


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