2nd March 2015

Today marks World Book Day’s 18th year – that one day each year when the world takes a bit of time out in order to celebrate all things literature.  Taking part in over 100 countries around the globe, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind; it really shows just how influential literature is and that anyone can connect with it.  The main aim of World Book Day in the UK & Ireland is to encourage kids to delve into the magical worlds that reading can offer by picking up a book. But why stop at kids?


Today, books are available to us at the tap of a button, thanks to technological advances like the Kindle – as anyone whose daily commute includes a trip on the tube will know. Yet a survey for World Book Day recently revealed that while the average home has an impressive collection of 158 books, a quarter of them have remained unread!

Everyone in team Alfred loves a good book, so World Book Day certainly got the office talking, and we decided to compile a list of our all-time favourites:

The Etruscan Smile by José Luis Sampedro


Dany said that the novel that struck a cord with him is the Spanish La Sonrisa Etrusca (The Etruscan Smile) by José Luis Sampedro.  The story tells of an Italian farmer who goes from being the archetypal grumpy old man to being completely transformed through the relationship with his baby grandson. “The way that bond develops throughout the story and how it reflects on every aspect of the man’s life is incredibly moving. I read this book not long after my own granddad died, and I could see a lot of his traits in the book’s central character… for that reason alone it’s always been a hugely special read to me.”

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry


A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry is Stacey’s favourite – in fact, she loves it so much that she still thinks about the characters! Set in Bombay, the book follows four characters who develop a bond in the midst of the turmoil of The Emergency.  “I gobbled it down in less than 24 hours! I’ve never been so captivated by a book, and still think about all the characters on a oddly regular basis!”

Purple Cow by Seth Godin


Purple Cow by Seth Godin is Dan’s top pick, which he heralds as a thought-leader at the time of its release. “It highlights how companies need to bring marketing and communications etc. into the fold when looking at product development, to create something that is truly disruptive and encourages word of mouth.”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


What book list would be complete without one of the true classics? Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, of course. Lauren says it’s her favourite book because “not only is it the most romantic book ever written (and given us the Colin Firth swimming scene which should not be forgotten), it also gave us a heroine in Lizzy Bennett, who was one of the first feminists.”

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks


Katy’s ultimate favourite book is Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. “So beautifully written, it draws you in from the very beginning as it tells the story of a man called Stephen Wraysford at different stages of his life both before and during World War One. It combines love through to tragedy, culminating in possibly the most moving ending I’ve ever read – yes I did cry!”

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie


Caroline opted for one of her childhood classics – JM Barrie’s Peter Pan.  “There was always something so enchanting about it, and it’s remained a classic throughout the years with young and old alike.  When I moved to London, one of the first things I did was go to see the statue in Kensington Gardens!”

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger


Gemma found it nearly impossible to pick her number one favourite book – she has so many! So she went back to one of the first books that made her fall in love with literature – The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.  “It was the first book I read for A-level, and I remember finishing it and going straight back to the beginning, and reading it all over again. I debated and dissected the story through my studies, and have read many a review over why it was a book of such impact when released in 1950s New York, through to the modern day. For me, it was the first book I’d ever read written in this style and loaded with such emotion. It’s a stream of consciousness and puts the reader directly in the place of Holden Caulfield. He’s completely unlikeable, a bit of a loser who you really wouldn’t want to know or like, but at the same time, wholly loveable as you feel for his lost soul.”

Happy World Book Day!

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