We all could do with some light relief from reality…

Last year, the estimated social media reach of #WorldBookNight and #ReadingHour was 14.3 million.

This year’s theme, “Books To Make You Smile” is a response to the impact of Covid-19 on mental health, highlighting the proven power of reading and the benefits it brings to well-being.

This also coincides with the launch of “Stories to Make You Smile” – a new collection of short stories compiled by The Reading Agency together with Specsavers.

To mark its 10th anniversary this year World Book Night will be hosting a number of virtual events, book giveaways, online activities, exclusive releases and promotions, calling for the whole nation to celebrate reading for pleasure.

Celebrations on World Book Night itself will be marked by a livestreamed event in partnership with The British Library, hosted by World Book Night Ambassador Sandi Toksvig and featuring best-selling authors David Nicholls and Bolu Babalola, and World Book Night founder and Canongate CEO Jamie Byng (8-9pm).

A seriously entertaining collection of feelgood stories guaranteed to put the smile back on your face written especially by ten bestselling novelists, including Vaseem Khan. From a hilarious race against time to a moment of unexpected eavesdropping, from righting wrongs in rural India to finding joy in unlikely places, these stories are all rich in wit and humour, guaranteed to lift your spirits and warm your heart.

Join in with the ‘Reading Hour’

Prior to the event, The Reading Agency is inviting the whole nation to join the #ReadingHour (7-8pm), when everyone is encouraged to spend time with a good book, alone or with others, reading in any format they want and wherever they like.

Last year, the estimated social media reach of #WorldBookNight and #ReadingHour was 14.3 million.

Celebrations on the night itself will also include a virtual event hosted by The British Library, featuring Nobel Prize-winner Kazuo Ishiguro in conversation with Kate Mosse, bestselling author of The City of Tears and founder of the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Stories to Make You Smile

Stories to Make you Smile is a co-commission between The Reading Agency and Specsavers as part of World Book Night 2021.

As well as online activities, The Reading Agency has commissioned a new collection of short stories exclusively for World Book Night 2021, Stories to Make You Smile (published by Simon & Schuster).

The commissioned book is edited by writer, former Costa Book Award judge and Quick Reads editor Fanny Blake, and featuring contributions from high-profile comedians and authors Richard Madeley, Jenny Éclair, Helen Lederer, Mark Watson, Eva Verde, Vaseem Khan and more.

Now available for pre-order in various formats, Stories to Make You Smile will be released on World Book Night, with 3,000 copies of the book being given out to customers through Specsavers competitions and giveaways.

A a free e-book version available to download on the day, and the audiobook narrated by Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Notting Hill), Adjoa Andoh (Bridgerton, Doctor Who) and Samantha Bond (Downton Abbey, James Bond) available for pre-order now ahead of release on World Book Night.


On World Book Night, The Reading Agency will be giving away 100,000 books in various formats – twice as many as last year. The Reading Agency’s mission is to spread the joy of reading to those who don’t regularly read for pleasure or have access to books, by distributing books to organisations such as prisons, hospitals, food banks, youth centres, care homes and mental health groups.

In addition to print books, The Reading Agency is giving away 6,000 free audiobooks, as part of their efforts to make reading available to the widest possible audience.

Also planned, is a Bookshop.org partnership, with authors sharing their reading recommendations for World Book Night (and beyond) on the online platform supporting independent bookshops. Waterstones will also be partnering up with The Reading Agency, supporting the #ReadingHour on social media and offering prize giveaways.

Follow the latest developments on social media: @WorldBookNight / @ReadingAgency / @Specsavers / #WorldBookNight / #ReadingHour / #BooksToMakeYouSmile

World Book Night 2021 Titles

· A Dutiful Boy by Mohsin Zaidi (Vintage)
· Common People: An Anthology of Working-Class Writers by various authors, ed. by Kit de Waal (Unbound)
· Ask a Footballer by James Milner (Quercus)
· Elevation by Stephen King (Hodder)
· Emma by Jane Austen, narrated by Tanya Reynolds (Penguin Random House Audio)
· Faking Friends by Jane Fallon (Michael Joseph)
· Good Food for Bad Days by Jack Monroe (Pan Macmillan)
· “I Will Not Be Erased”: Our Stories About Growing Up as People of Colour by gal-dem (Walker Books)
· Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, narrated by David Tennant and Samantha Spiro (BBC Audio)
· Pocket Book of Happiness (Welbeck Balance)
· Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe (Penguin General)
· Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Penguin Random House Children’s)
· Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square by Heidi Swain (Simon & Schuster)
· Stories to Make You Smile by various authors, ed. by Fanny Blake (Simon & Schuster)
· Taking Up Space: The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change by Chelsea Kwakye and Ọrẹ Ogunbiyi (Cornerstone)
· The Anxiety Survival Guide by Bridie Gallagher, Sue Knowles and Phoebe McEwan (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)
· The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (Quercus)
· The Kindness Method written and narrated by Shahroo Izadi (Pan Macmillan)
· To Sir With Love by E.R. Braithwaite (Vintage)
· Up in the Attic by Pam Ayres (Ebury)
· We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen (Andersen Press)
· Where Are We Now? By Glenn Patterson (Head of Zeus)