In The Library Book, published for National Libraries Day on 4 February, twenty-three of our most outstanding writers describe libraries real or imagined, past, present, and future – why they matter and to whom. They are: Anita Anand, Julian Barnes, Bella Bathurst, Alan Bennett, Michael Brooks, James Brown, Ann Cleeves, Stephen Fry, Seth Godin, Susan Hill, Tom Holland, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Lucy Mangan, Val McDermid, China Miéville, Caitlin Moran, Kate Mosse, Julie Myerson, Bali Rai, Lionel Shriver, Karin Slaughter, Zadie Smith and Nicky Wire.
Recognising that without libraries we would not have the writers of today and tomorrow, The Library Book’s contributors are all donating their royalties to The Reading Agency, the independent charity working to inspire more people to read more.
From Alan Bennett’s Baffled at a Bookcase, to Lucy Mangan’s Ten Library Rules, famous writers tell us all about how libraries are used and why they’re important. Tom Holland writes about libraries in the ancient world, while Seth Godin describes what a library will look like in 2020. Lionel Shriver thinks books are the best investment, Hardeep Singh Kohli describes his first encounter with a punk and Julie Myerson remembers how her career began beside the shelves. Julian Barnes contributes a previously unseen extract from his novel England, England, and Stephen Fry asks, ‘have you heard of Oscar Wilde?’
Using memoir, history, polemic, short stories and more, The Library Book celebrates ‘that place where they lend you books for free’ and the people who work there.
Editor Rebecca Gray, who volunteers in her spare time for a mobile library for homeless people, says: ‘What’s really come through in this project is how libraries liberate people, shape them, allow them to educate themselves. So many people are passionate about libraries – not just for the books, but for the space – and freedom – they provide. I’ve so enjoyed working with The Reading Agency and all these wonderful writers on this book.’
Miranda McKearney, Director of the Reading Agency says, ‘ What a wonderful way to celebrate National Libraries Day! The generosity of Profile and the contributing writers will help drive two crucial programmes: our popular ‘six book challenge’ schemes for children and adults – meaning that, despite the cuts, libraries can continue to use them in their communities.