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This IS me (by schwitters)Default

Quick! Read!

Last night I travelled through the Deptford badlands to the coot-haunted utopia of Surrey Quays for an event at Canada Water Library.

Quick Reads are books of 15 - 20,000 words by established authors, priced at £1 and aimed at adults who for various reasons struggle with reading. Dulwich Books had organised a talk by Quick Reads' director and two of this year's authors.

I was slightly dubious about the evening, since I suspected the kind of people likely to go to a talk at a library wouldn't be the target market for Quick Reads' output. But it turned out to be fun and interesting, both from a writer's perspective and a reader's.

Listening to writers talk about their lives, inspiration and process is almost always enjoyable. I hadn't heard of either Sophie Hannah or Fanny Blake, and neither writes the kind of stuff I usually read, but they were engaging speakers. (Sophie Hannah is also a poet; I looked her up today and found her works appealing in a Wendy Cope-ish way.)

I went all prepared to be horrified and righteous about the fact that 'one in three UK adults do not read for pleasure, and one in six struggle to read at all'. Quick Reads' Cathy Rentzenbrink took that statistic and turned it into a success story, including readers moving on to longer works by Quick Reads authors they'd enjoyed, prisoners helping each other along the page (yes, I had to resist using the word 'sentence' in there), and her own appearance on breakfast TV with her father, who couldn't read until he was in his 30s.

The event was free, and at the end of the evening everyone received a goody bag containing not only the two authors' Quick Reads but a sizeable slab of chocolate (the initiative is sponsored by Galaxy).

I'd like to pass Red for Revenge and Pictures or it Didn't Happen on to good homes when I've read them - any suggestions? Otherwise they're bound for the book box in the kitchen at work.


That does sound like rather a cool initiative! I wonder if they might try expanding to things like handing out free copies at busy venues like train stations? (Making the signage clear to note that they're wanting to give you stuff, not badger you for money - always an awkward thing, let alone when you're in a hurry to get from the train down to the Tube) Heck, they could even rig up a system so people could just take a photo of a redemption code of some kind to automagically download a given work as an iBook or Kindle edition. (I am a thoroughly digital bunny)
They do distribute to workplaces, but it would be nice to get more of them in the wild. It's a similar initiative to the World Book Day children's books, which are priced at £1 but every child of school age gets a token they can exchange for one of the range.