Bless the weather for not raining on Monday, frosty cold and crisp for my crack of dawn journey up to London on what felt like the milk train, but was actually the 7.44am, so not that bad and England was looking particularly beautiful as it sped past.
I was in London for the World Book Night editorial meeting and what an experience that was.
Just to recap, this is another event that will be linked to World Book Day 2011 when on Saturday March 5th (we can but hope it doesn't clash with the Royal Wedding) a million books will be given away by 20,000 passionate book lovers who can choose how they want to do that, and the hope is that some of the giving venues will be really innovative in order to reach a broad spectrum of people.
Chaired by James Naughtie who at times had to put on his sternest, most head masterly countenance to maintain order amongst the twenty-five book-loving people present, (only occasionally holding his head in his hands and threatening that we'd still be there at midnight if we didn't get a move on) ) the meeting was fascinating. Everyone waving their lists of suggestions all plucked from the longer lists submitted by booksellers and libraries around the country, but everyone had the chance to talk to their favourites, so really James Naughtie could probably now step up and keep the House of Commons in shape.
It took me days and days to come up with my list and then I had to whittle my forty-six wild cards down to two, these could be books not on any list but that we felt passionately about. It really was quite a task but after four hours and some intense deliberations we emerged with a very exciting list of titles that holds something for everyone, some fantastic reads like.... and.... and ... plus a few surprises and then there's .... you'll love that one and how could we leave out.... or ..... or.... and the one that squeaked in at the end and replaced.... and you'll be surprised about that one...
Of course I can't possibly breath a word or I'd have to kill you all.
Parts of the meeting were filmed for The Culture Show to be broadcast on BBC 2 on the evening of December 2nd, the day the titles will be announced and the search for the 20,000 book givers begins. I was sitting next but one to Amanda Ross and opposite the BBC's Alan Yentob so if you catch a glimpse, that's me in my lucky turquoise scarf, the one most likely to be gawping open-mouthed in the background for which I hope you will forgive me.
It was lovely to meet Professor John Carey again having shared a platform with him at the Oxford Literary Festival a few years ago, and even lovelier that he remembered me and has since sent me a copy of his recent biography of William Golding for which I am so grateful. I've been swithering around for a new (to me) author to explore and having only read Lord of the Flies at school I'm looking forward to some more Golding. John has suggested where I make a start so more on that soon.
The meeting was held at Foyles in Tottenham Court Road. In the Gallery on the third floor in fact, and in the midst of an exhibition about fonts and Simon Garfield's book Just My Type, so plenty to gaze at while deliberations progressed. I think you can already predict my happy dilemma, because that's a lot of bookshop to walk through before you get back out onto the road and a lot of books to idle past and browse.
Heck Foyles really is amazing, I wish they'd open one in Tavistock, a rural branch, we'd love it. More buying temptation than can be good for anyone but I had already decided that I would buy a book and come home with a souvenir of my day.
I knew exactly the book I wanted but wavered over the decision because I also wanted this