Felix is a Contracts Executive based in our offices in The Strand, London. On World Book Day, he'll be running an audiobook bookclub in a prison library.
Why did you sign up to volunteer for World Book Day this year?
Working in the Contracts team, I don’t see as many books as my colleagues do in other departments, and it’s easy to forget the social value of the work that we – as book publishers – do. World Book Day is a great opportunity for everyone – especially non-editorial staff like me – to escape the office and see the immense power that books have in the real world – the power to entertain, inspire, provoke, excite and teach…
Did you volunteer last year? If so, how did you find it? What were your highlights?
On World Book Day last year, I waded through the Beast from the East to join a team of colleagues at a school in Poplar where we hosted a book quiz for a class of Year Fives. I was nervous and (more than a bit) sceptical at first – not least because I don’t spend a lot of time around ten-year olds. But it was great fun. It was moving, in fact, to see so many children (many of whom seemed just as sceptical as I was at the start) discover the fun of reading and debating the words with their friends as the quiz progressed, and to see their excitement when they were rewarded for their comprehension with free books. In the end, I wasn’t sure who enjoyed the quiz more – the kids, our celebrity reader, Jim Fitzpatrick MP, or us!
What will you be doing on the day?
This year, I’ll be doing something pretty different. I’ll be volunteering in a prison, leading an audio bookclub discussion about The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen. It’s a book that’s been on my to-be-read pile for a while, so this is a perfect opportunity to get started. And I can’t imagine a more exciting way into reading the book than at a bookclub with a group of strangers whose perspectives I’d never usually get to hear. I can’t wait to see what happens; I have no idea what to expect. Is there a better bookclub setup than that?
What are you most looking forward to?
We’ll be taking lots of free copies of the book with us so that anyone at the prison who’s keen to continue reading the book after World Book Day can do so with their own personal copy. Reading shouldn’t have to end when our session ends.
Why do you think it’s important to share our passion for books and reading with the local community?
Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you do, our message is that no one should be excluded from the world of reading, on World Book Day or any other day. As book publishers, it’s incumbent on us – we have a moral duty – to reach out to people in society who, for whatever reason, haven’t had the opportunity to discover reading. World Book Day is a powerful reminder that books are this important, inspiring and powerful every day, not just on one day a year in March. The power of books isn’t reserved – it’s universal. Every day is World Book Day.
Why are books and reading important to you?
Was it Ernest Hemingway who said that there’s no friend as loyal as a book? I’m not a Hemingway fan, but I don’t think I can give a better answer than that.