Swot up for Book Week

Picture books, history books, autobiographies, best sellers ... books come in all shapes and sizes. And so do the people who read them.

The fact that there is no ‘one size fits all’ is the starting point for Book Week Scotland, which runs from Monday, November 21, to Sunday, November 27, with events being staged across the country.

From reading dares to voting for your favourite film and even giving away free books, Book Week Scotland isn’t just for avid bookworms, whose idea of heaven is a comfy chair, a cuppa and a gripping novel – though, naturally there will be things to tempt them too.

Organised by the Scottish Book Trust, after a request from the Scottish Government in 2011, the week also reaches out to adult learners taking their first steps on a journey of discovery.

Philippa Cochrane, of the Scottish Book Trust, said the project work to encourage non-readers is very rewarding.

“One of the projects has adult learners going into the community and interviewing people about what they like to read,” she said.

“They then come up with a list of things they think those people would like to read.

“I love projects like that because it turns around their relationship with reading – going from it being something there’s an issue with to something they are really engaging with. I think it’s fabulous.”

The reason the week has become so eclectic and inclusive is simple: people take the premise and run with it, adding their own events, so it is a real community event across the country.

Following its launch in 2011, the trust quickly established a partnership that would help it reach everyone in Scotland – the library service.

“Basically, wherever there is a library you’ll find Book Week Scotland events,” said Philippa. “That means we have some high profile author events but people also add things of their own to the mix, which is great.”

Book Week Scotland not only encourages you to start reading more – it dares you to! On the website, you’ll find a reading dare generator – and if you don’t fancy the dare it chooses, you can pass it on and have another go.

“When you do the dare, please take a photo and share it on social media with us,” said Phillipa.

There’s also a free book, 150,000 copies of which are being given away.

Secrets and Confessions is a collection of writing submitted by people from all walks of life to get people writing.

They were asked to write about something they hadn’t shared with anyone else and entries flooded in.

The result is a great mixture of stories; some sad, some funny.

“There literally is something for everyone in that book,” said Phillipa.

And don’t worry if you don’t come across a copy near you as it can be ordered online and is available to download to your Kindle.

“We want people to enjoy reading in whatever way works best for them,” said Phillipa. “Reading for pleasure doesn’t necessarily mean reading fiction.

“It can mean reading whatever you want – as long as you enjoy it and look forward to losing yourself in it, crack on!”

But why should the government care whether people are reading or not?

“There are so many answers to that question,” said Philippa.

“There’s the importance of literacy in order to be able to participate in society and get where you want in life.

“But there are also wider benefits that reading for pleasure brings. For example, it has huge value in terms of mental health and well-being.

“It helps us engage with other people, develops imagination and helps us engage actively in society.

“It’s a straightforward element of life that can make tangible improvements to people’s lives – in a way that’s very low key.”

As well as the libraries, which are all involved, Book Week Scotland encourages people to go to their local booksellers for personal recommendations.

And they hope more people will discover and support the tremendous Scottish authors writing, here and now.

Philippa added: “Even if you’ve never been to a book event before, this is a real opportunity to go and have a look – you might be surprised at what’s there!”

For a full list of events, visit the website at www.scottishbooktrust.com/book-week-scotland.