I received an email a few days ago from Victoria at Give a Book, a new initiative to give books to people who need them. The idea is that for every £5 donated to Give a Book, you can choose a book from their list to be donated to the charity of your choice from their list. They’ve started with three charities – Age Concern, Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres & First Story which supports literacy & creativity in UK schools. The idea of Give a Book was inspired by the late writer, Simon Gray, & the selected books reflect his tastes & include some of his favourites. New books are added to the list by special guests. Last month, Antonia Fraser selected William Trevor’s Love & Summer & this month, actor Dominic West selected A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor. Other titles on the list include Emma by Jane Austen, Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, George Orwell’s Essays & the fantastic picture book for all ages, It’s a Book by Lane Smith. There are lots of my favourites on the list & I suppose my only reservation about the list is that it’s quite classic. I love a lot of these books but I wonder if all the recipients will be pleased to receive Anna Karenina or The Great Gatsby when they might prefer a good thriller or family saga. I do think it’s a great idea though. Anything that gets books into the hands of people who need them is worthwhile.
The charities involved have already had some excellent feedback from workers & recipients. Maggie’s Centres were pleased to be able to offer patients something to read that didn’t focus on their treatment. Age Concern are using the books to facilitate visitors visiting clients in their homes & reading to them & also to set up friendship groups for isolated people. So, I think it’s a great idea & as the list of books grows, I’m sure it will incorporate a wider range of genres & tastes. The importance of reading can’t be underestimated & I think any idea that promotes reading should be supported.
If you’re interested, just click on the link above to find out more about the project & how to donate. Here’s an article in the Telegraph by Charles Moore with some more information about Simon Gray’s legacy as a writer & Give a Book. I chose two of my favourite books to donate to Age Concern – Palgrave’s Golden Treasury & Siegfried Sassoon’s Complete Memoirs of George Sherston.