When I applied to be a World Book Night giver, my first choice of book was Rebecca. As readers of my blog will know, not only is Rebecca one of my favourite books, but I’m also a huge fan of Daphne Du Maurier and would have loved nothing more than to introduce her books to a range of people, who otherwise might not have had the opportunity to read them.
My second choice was The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, a haunting book that I have already recommended to a number of friends in the years since I fisrt read it. Again, as another of my favourite books, I was confident in my ability to convince those who might not usually read to give Niffenegger’s debut a try.
What I didn’t bank on, however, was being chosen to as a book-giver of a book that I had neither read, nor would ever chose to read. When it comes to books, the one genre I steer absolutely clear of is science fiction; of all the books on the BBC’s Top 100 that I’ve read, my least favourite was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I struggle with the concept of aliens, zombies, spaceships and the galaxy, thus this genre has never appealed to me.
So, in light of the fact that I’m working my way through a year of literary challenges, it is perhaps both ironic and quite fitting that I was chosen to be a giver of The Player of Games, a science fiction novel by Iain M. Banks. Initially I debated over whether or not to go ahead as a WBN giver – indeed I wondered how I was supposed to convince people that don’t enjoy reading as much as I do to read a book that I would never choose to.
However, there was a note at the bottom of the email from Julia Kingsford, the chief executive of WBN that made me think twice:
‘When the editorial committee chose the books, 15 of us sat down to put the list together. Someone around the table had read and championed every book we chose but I had only personally read 16 of them. I’ve since read my way through the list and can say with genuine honesty how much I’ve enjoyed all of them and especially those that I wouldn’t naturally have picked up or consider to be ‘my sort of book’. So please do seriously consider the book you’ve been offered.’
So while The Player of Games may not have been my first choice, I’m going to take heed of Julia’s words and this World Book Night will be championing not only a love of reading but The Player of Games as well.