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Tonight marks the return of the annual celebration of reading, World Book Night. But while 2020's event will be unusual due to lockdown, seeing organised events move online as people stay at home, it may also mark the largest number of people joining in with the event's 'reading hour'.

The Reading Agency, which organises World Book Night, undertook a survey of more than 2,000 people in the UK. It found that 31 percent said they were reading more, in particular among younger people - 45 per cent of those aged between 18 and 24 said they were increasingly turning to books since lockdown began. Of that age group, 36 percent were reading non-fiction, 20 percent were reading crime fiction and 16 percent were tackling classic literature. 

A 20-year-old woman told the agency: 'It has been something I have gotten into, wanting to read on for excitement. It passes the time and I'm learning new things.'

Many surveyed said that reading offered a form of release, escapism and distraction from the current situation, and that they now had more time to pick up a book. 

Seven out of 10 surveyed said they were reading fiction, and while people were reading more fiction, the survey suggested they were sticking to genres with which they were familiar.  

World Book Night events kick off this evening virtually from libraries and book clubs around the country. Reading Hour, in which people are encouraged to read and share photos of themselves doing so with the hashtag #readinghour, will be from 7pm until 8pm.

From next week Penguin will be live streaming our authors direct to thousands of students nationwide as part of a new partnership with Speakers for Schools.  These new Virtual Penguin Talks will address the most pressing and prominent issues facing 14- to 18-year-olds as a result of COVID-19, including how to manage your mental health and anxiety and how to prepare for a challenging future jobs market.

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