Books, glorious books

A copy of The Humans, left on Derry's Walls by local student Fiona McCallion
A copy of The Humans, left on Derry's Walls by local student Fiona McCallion

World Book Night - an event which celebrates the humble book and the art of storytelling - was marked in Derry this week by a host of events.

Top of the bill locally was an event held in Derry’s Verbal Arts Centre where local authors, including Jennifer Johnston and New York Times bestseller Brian McGilloway read to a crowd of literary lovers.

But quietly perhaps, behind the scenes at least one local girl was getting into the true spirit of World Book Night.

Fiona McCallion - a journalism student - was one of hundreds of volunteers chosen on behalf of World Book Night by charity The Reading Agency to deliver books throughout the city to unsuspecting readers.

As a passionate reader herself, Fiona was keen to get involved and eagerly took on her “mission” of distributing 18 copies of ‘The Humans’ by Matt Haig - one of a number of books selected by The Reading Agency for distribution around Derry on Wednesday.

“20 books featured this year, but I applied for Matt Haig’s,” Fiona said.

“I loved ‘The Humans.’ It is initially a hilarious story of an alien who inhabits a Cambridge University mathematician’s body.

“He’s here to destroy evidence of the Riemann Hypothesis and doesn’t know the first thing about earth. But what are humans? What is the human condition? The story looks at humans from a new angle-the perspective of totally alien character.

“I registered online and submitted ideas about how I would distribute the books. Reading gives me so much happiness and always has done so I was keen to share it with other humans!”

The rules of the giveaway are fairly simple.

“The ‘giver’ has to share the books within their community so as to share their love of reading with people who have lost the love of reading – or are yet to gain it.

Fiona was given 18 copies of ‘The Humans’ to distribute - and she came up with some unusual ways to share the books.

“I gave a copy to my taxi driver, a lovely Buncrana shop keeper, left two with notes on the Walls, posted one to Scotland and gave one to Mickey Singh,” Fiona explained.

“It enabled me to have lots of happy, refreshing conversations about books and reading with a cross section of people.”

Rumour has it a copy of ‘The Humans’ has also made its way to the Derry Journal office.

But the journey of the books does not end with the Fiona’s part in the process. The hope behind World Book Night is that those who receive the books will read them and in turn pass them on to another unsuspecting reader.

Fiona hopes that she will be able to follow the journey the 18 copies of ‘The Humans’ will made and has handwritten her name, her twitter username and her home town of Derry inside each cover.