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Sixth annual World Book Night underway on Shakespeare's 400th anniversary

The sixth edition of the World Book Night is underway, part of a campaign to encourage people to read books. The event is held each year on William Shakespeare's anniversary.

Teams of "literary commandos" went into carriages on the Madrid metro on Friday night to read short texts out loud to commuters and start celebrations for the sixth annual edition of World Book Night.

The international event is aimed at encouraging more people to read. "The goal is to make reading more sociable," Eva Sagardoy, a member of one of the "commando" teams in Madrid said. "We library rats are solitary people. We wanted to make reading something that can be shared, like a good meal."

Groups of readers went into the Madrid train carriages, waited until the doors closed and then took turns to read texts from works by writers such as Spanish playwright Lope De Vega, Czech author Milan Kundera and ancient Greek story teller Aesop.

The readings on the metro were one of 600 events planned for the Madrid region. Bookstores are staying open longer than usual and libraries are holding special exhibitions and meetings with authors.

World Book Night

World Book Night

was first held in the UK and Ireland in March 2011. It was moved to April 23 the following year to coincide with the anniversary of William Shakespeare. Jamie Byng who runs the Canongate publishing house came up with the idea following a discussion at a book industry conference in 2010 as a way of encouraging more adults to read.

Events in the UK range from a murder mystery evening called "Live and Let Spy" in Scotland to a flagship event at the British Library: a special gala evening with a panel of authors and other guests, each discussing the place of books in their lives and reading from some of their favorites.

This year there is even more focus on reading as celebrations take place for the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare.

jm/se (AFP)

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