I spent an hour or so on Monday evening at the launch event for this year’s Liverpool Reads, a campaign to promote reading on Merseyside and beyond. The sort of event that deserves support, I think, and I was glad to see that a number of leading local organisations are giving it their backing.
The event took place at the Café Sports Express, which is in the increasingly impressive Liverpool One development. Even if you don’t like shopping (and I do like it) Liverpool One is a fascinating place, because the designers have cleverly integrated a large retail, living and business area with the existing cityscape, and linked it, by way of a renewed Chavasse Park, to the Albert Dock. So it’s very different from so many featureless malls. Café Sports Express is, someone told me, owned by the Liverpool footballer Jamie Carragher, although I didn’t manage to spot Carra in the crowd.
Liverpool Reads involves, this year, distributing no fewer than 20,000 free books – it’s a children’s story called Savage, written by David Almond and illustrated by David McKean. An ambitious project, then, led by The Reader Organisation, a registered charity which is based in Liverpool.
I had a chat with Jane Davis, the presiding genius behind The Reader Organisation. We’ve met occasionally over the years, when I’ve participated in events she’s organised. One that springs to mind was a workshop day at Alsager, near Crewe, seven or eight years ago. Another was a day of readings and workshops in Runcorn, which was the occasion when I first had the pleasure of meeting Sophie Hannah. She’d just published her first book and has gone on to great things since then. The Reader Organisation does a great job in bringing writers and readers together and fostering a love of literature, especially among the disadvantaged. Long may it continue to thrive.
Sophie, by the way, is due to appear at a crime panel at 4 pm on 27 September at the Chiswick Book Festival, to which I’ve been asked to give a plug. All tickets are available from Waterstone’s Booksellers, Chiswick W4 1PD. Tel: 020 8995 3559. Or the Chiswick Festival website: www.chiswickbookfestival.org