For Books’ Sake Does World Book Night

7th Mar 2011


Swooning over the shelves and shelves of green spines in Virago‘s offices

So it wasn’t technically part of World Book Night, but we’re including our jaunt to Victoria Embankment for a snoop around Virago‘s swish offices on Friday in this post because it was a wonderful way to start one of the most insanely hectic weekends we’ve ever had.

They invited us for a natter and a sneak peek at the titles they’re working on over the next few months, and we came away with a swag bag of books we can’t wait to get stuck into, including The Edwardians by Vita Sackville-West, Marilynne Robinson‘s Gilead, Rebel Girls by Jill Liddington and the forthcoming début novel by Katie Ward, Girl Reading. Keep your peepers peeled for reviews over the next few weeks!


Sarah Waters reading from Fingersmith in Trafalgar Square

Then it was onto to Trafalgar Square for a star-studded launch event featuring everyone from For Books’ Sake favourites Sarah Waters and Margaret Atwood to Nick Cave (who did a delightfully sleazy reading of the opening paragraphs of Lolita) and Alan Bennett.

By then, we’d hooked up with the folks from Cactus TV, the production company responsible for The TV Book Club. In an interview by Sarah Cawood, we were grilled about why we’d chosen Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin as our World Book Night title, and how and why we’d gotten involved.

But little did we know that they had a surprise up their sleeves for us…


Look, Mum…it’s us! With the almighty Atwood!

We met Margaret Atwood. Somewhat miraculously, we managed to contain our fangirlish swoons and squeals of excitement until we were safely outside. Even when she took a photo of us (and then later blogged it), and asked us where we would be giving out The Blind Assassin the following day. When we told her about the Million Women Rise march and the London Rollergirls, she seemed to approve.


Foyles saves the day!

The next day, however, disaster struck! Our local library, which had promised our copies of The Blind Assassin would be delivered in time, hadn’t received them. The TV Book Club film crew were waiting for us, we’d told Margaret Atwood all about our honourable intentions, but we had no books.

After speaking to a friendly but clearly monstrously overworked lady at World Book Night, we were told our best bet was to see if we could find some copies ourselves. We put an SOS out on Twitter, and Foyles came to our rescue.

So our Saturday started with an epic quest to their Westfield shop to collect the books. Not the calm and collected start we’d envisaged, but at least we got our grubby mitts on them in the end.

Million Women Rise

The Million Women Rise march rocks up to Trafalgar Square

Then it was back to Trafalgar Square, to meet the Million Women Rise march as it convened for a rally. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, as well as to highlight the impact on women of government cuts to resources such as support for survivors of domestic violence or sexual abuse.

Harbour Grudges

Go, go, Harbour Grudges!

After that, we dashed across town yet again to Earl’s Court, for the fifth bout of this season’s clashes between the London Rollergirls. We gave books away to members of the audience, and even managed to give copies to Lola Vulkano and Ecchi Killer, two of my favourite roller derby team, the Harbour Grudges.

And finally, once all but one of our copies had found new homes, we bid farewell to the film crew and indulged in large glass of booze or two. But the last of our World Book Night books, we saved for you.

We’ve got one left, and if you want it all you need to do is comment on this post telling us so, and we’ll choose a winner at the end of the week.

Jane Bradley

(Sarah Waters photo courtesy of Rebecca Bruce, Million Women Rise photo courtesy of Android_Man)


  • Jess says:

    wow! What an amazing weekend! Mine was almost as hectic, though didn’t involve meeting Margaret Atwood-beyond jealous!
    Vita Sackvillie West is amazing and the Edwardians is brilliant, enjoy!

  • Mel Butcher says:

    What an incredible weekend you’ve had, I’d love the copy of The Blind Assassin please

  • Jenny Campbell says:

    Wow what a packed weekend you had. Filled with lovely literary treats. I also took part in WBN but didnt have the pleasure of meeting my chosen author.If you need any company next time, just ask! x

    • Jenny Campbell says:

      erm I’d love a copy of the Blind Assassin btw and can even offer you The Reluctant Fundamentalist in return..

    • Jane Bradley says:

      Thanks Jenny, if you send me your address (jane[at]forbookssake[dot]net), we’ll send one to you! 🙂

  • Nice work ladies! Sounds like you had a fantastic weekend. I’d tell you both to take it easy over the next week but I know you won’t listen 😉

    • Alex Herod says:

      Well, I have done very little ‘work’ at work today, mainly blogging abou the weekend instead.. so I guess that counts 🙂

  • Grace says:

    I would love a copy of the book!

  • Thanks for this wonderful report. You had some wonderful encounters there and it sounds like you had a great time, even if not all went to plan.

    I’d love a copy, but I’m not in the UK. If that matters, it doesn’t matter! 🙂

    So, that film crew, when were you broadcasted? Was this on the night itself? I didn’t see you as far as I know (I watched until Brideshead, then called it a night).

    • Jane Bradley says:

      Thanks Judith, we’ll still add your name to the hat, don’t worry!

      We weren’t on TV on the night itself, it’s for a special episode of The TV Book Club which will be broadcast soon, so we’ll keep you posted once we know when it’s on!

  • Sian says:

    I already have a copy so don’t add me to the hat, just wanted to say how FABULOUS your weekend looks. Well done, ladies. Super impressed.

  • Em says:

    I bet you won’t be forgetting this one!
    I, also, was giving The Blind Assassin and had great fun.

  • Leanne says:

    What an amazing weekend! I’d love to be entered into the draw please 🙂

  • @joellaviscount says:

    Oooh what a lovely weekend you have had, I am very jealous. But I’m sure that this jealous condition could be cured with an entry into the hat for the book 🙂 I’ve followed you on twitter and the blog for a while but never commented, just had to say something today though.

  • angri-la says:

    Glad you had fun at the Roller Derby! A few of us will be at the quiz this week hopefully proving we have brains as well as brawn 😀
    Referee, London Rollergirls

  • fox sake says:

    I would love the last copy, and I should have it because you said on Twitter you’d save me one! I had to work before the bout and pretty much just got there in time to kit up and skate, so I didn’t get to come and talk to you 🙁 Glad you had a good time there, even if you were cheering on the Harbour Grudges (booo!) 😉

    I’ll be at the quiz on Weds with angri – can’t wait.

    your almost-name-twin,
    #04 Fox Sake

    • Jane Bradley says:

      We asked for you though – promise! And we’ll put you some extra entries in the hat because we did indeed earmark it for you. And we cheered for you too, you’re our favourite Steam Roller! 🙂

  • parrish says:

    On world book night, my daughter & I gave out our 48 copies of cloud atlas, which we thoroughly enjoyed, but didn’t meet a single giver, so would love a WBN book & have been wanting to read this author for a while. So please add my name.

  • Helen Smith says:

    Hello, I was at the World Book Night launch, too. I met Margaret Atwood but didn’t have the presence of mind to get a photo. Still, it was amazing – I was on stage for the event (sitting next to Harriet Spicer, one of the founders of Virago).

    I’m not commenting because I want a copy of your book, I just wanted to let you know that I have been giving out The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (and I suppose I wanted to let you know I had met the wonderful Margaret Atwood, too).

    I have blogged about giving away the books:

    Oh and – I love your blog, by the way!

  • Carol Peace says:

    What a great day you had. I have given my books out too but couldnt get to trafalgar square and wasnt the recipient of any other book either. Leeds was a bit of a let down.

    • Jane Bradley says:

      Hi Carol, do you want a copy of The Blind Assasin? Apparently we’re going to be sent the books that originally went AWOL so I will get one on its way to you if so. If you could email your address to jane[at]forbookssake[dot]net that’d be great. Thanks!

  • Joan P Herod says:

    An amazing weekend–Congrats to you.

  • So very jealous! Atwood has long been one of my favorites – though I have to admit that I haven’t yet read The Blind Assassin. Oops. Guess I need to get that one on my list sooner rather than later.

    Very impressed, too, with your choice of time and location. I wish World Book Night was a US thing, too.

  • Wow, Atwood, roller derby – sounds like way too much fun!

  • Lori (TNBBC) says:

    How cool is that, to meet Margaret Atwood! Sounds like an amazing week, even if things didn’t go exactly as planned!