Penguin Random House UK celebrates World Book Night

Penguin Random House will give away nearly 40,000 books across the UK on World Book Night this Saturday 23rd April, sharing their commitment to reach the 36% of the UK’s population who neither regularly read for pleasure nor own books.
When choosing the World Book Night titles, the Reading Agency were on the hunt for good, enjoyable, highly readable books with strong compelling narratives as well as including books across a variety of genres, fiction and non-fiction as well as books aimed at young adults.

Here are the terrific Penguin Random House titles they chose:



The Rotters’ Club by Jonathan Coe

Literary Fiction · Great for: Brummies, teenagers, anyone who grew up in Thatcher’s Britain

About this book:

A zestful comedy of personal and social upheaval, this book captures a fateful moment in British politics – the collapse of ‘Old Labour’ – and imagines its impact on the topsy-turvy world of the bemused teenager: a world in which a lost pair of swimming trunks can be just as devastating as an IRA bomb.

Jonathan Coe’s widely acclaimed novel is set in the 1970s against a distant backdrop of strikes, terrorist attacks and growing racial tension. A group of young friends inherit the editorship of their school magazine and begin to put their own distinctive spin onto events in the wider world. A zestful comedy of personal and social upheaval, The Rotters’ Club captures a fateful moment in British politics – the collapse of ‘Old Labour’ – and imagines its impact on the topsy-turvy world of the bemused teenager: a world in which a lost pair of swimming trunks can be just as devastating as an IRA bomb.

Viking Publisher, Mary Mount says:

‘Coe’s characters in The Rotters’ Club, as in so many of his novels, make you laugh a lot but are also drawn with great compassion. Anyone who lived through the 1970s and anyone who didn’t but lived through adolescence will find much to love in Jonathan Coe’s novel. The Rotters’ Club is not just a great novel for World Book Night but a great novel full stop.’


Now You See Me by Sharon Bolton

Crime / thriller · Great for: Fans of TV crime dramas from Prime Suspect to The Killing 

About this book:

A savage murder on London’s streets, 120 years to the day since Jack the Ripper claimed his first victim. A crime with all the hallmarks of a copycat killer. Detective Constable Lacey Flint has never worked a murder case, until now. When another mutilated victim is found she agrees to be the bait to lure out the monster.

But this killer is one step ahead, and already fixated on Lacey…

Frankie Gray, Editorial Director at Transworld says:

‘Sharon Bolton is the perfect World Book Night author – and  Now You See Me is the perfect book – because, quite simply, her writing makes you love reading. Each of her novels is a masterclass in suspense and atmosphere, with characters and plots that make her books impossible to put down, and that inspire you to share them, talk about them and revisit them. If you read one, I defy you not to pick up another – and what better way to embody the spirit of World Book Night. I’m so jealous of the readers soon to discover Sharon for the first time.’



I Can’t Begin to Tell You by Elizabeth Buchan

Historical fiction · Great for: Anyone who loved The Imitation Game & spy dramas

About this book

When the Nazis invade Denmark, British-born Kay Eberstern is sickened when Bror – her husband of twenty-five years – collaborates with the enemy to save his family home. Lured by British Intelligence into a covert world of resistance, her life in the hands of London’s code breakers, Kay’s betrayal of her husband is complete as she risks her home and children to protect an SOE agent who won’t even tell her his name.

As her family – especially her headstrong daughter – is drawn further into danger, Kay is faced with a wrenching moral dilemma. Who will be sacrificed next for the cause? Can she and Bror ever find their way back to one another?

Jessica Leeke, Editorial Director at Michael Joseph says:

‘Word book night is all about encouraging people who are not in the habit of reading to pick up a book. I think it really helps for a novel to have a recognisable hook – something familiar so people who do not read frequently are confident in what they can expect from a story; that it might be something they would enjoy. This is an espionage novel with a terrifically strong and inspiring female lead. We hope that people who have heard about the codebreakers at Bletchley Park, or have recently watched The Imitation Game or The Night Manager and are interested in sweeping spy stories, or fiction set during the Second World War, will give this a go.

Once they open the book, the point is to keep them reading, so the narrative must be clear and compelling. Elizabeth Buchan writes with elegance and skill – her style is accessible but her plotting is sufficiently complex and interesting. She’s a very natural storyteller and we hope that once people discover this story, they might continue to read from a rich seam of fiction set in this period and beyond.’

Book giveaway with Ministry of Stories in Hackney

Penguin Random House UK teamed up with Ministry of Stories for a book giveaway in Hackney, sharing our love of reading and engaging the local community in Ministry of Stories and World Book Night at the same time.

With the help of 3 volunteers, Francesca Dow, Natalie Wall and Thomas Coughlan, we gave away 300 titles at the local community college which ‘disappeared in 20 minutes flat’.  They enjoyed a campus frenzy of bookish enthusiasm and shared recommendations, followed up by a tour of Hoxton Street Monster Supplies and Ministry of Stories.

Francesca Dow, Managing Director at Penguin Random House Children’s, said:
"I had an amazing time with the Ministry of Stories. Their enthusiasm is infectious – how they can transform a child’s confidence through creative storytelling – and I also love the practical ways in which they work with their local community. When we went to the Hackney Community College to hand out free books for World Book Night, the books disappeared in 20 minutes flat! I’ve never seen such hunger for books; the students were clamouring for more Lee Child, Percy Jackson and James Patterson!"

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From Left to Right: Thomas McCoughlan, Natalie Wall and Francesca Dow

Ashley Parsons, Community Engagement Coordinator at the Ministry of Stories, said:  “It was great to have three such enthusiastic volunteers from Penguin Random House getting stuck in today. We didn’t quite know what the reaction would be to a book giveaway on Hackney Community College campus, but the interest was massive, and it was suddenly all hands on deck! As well as highlighting the college’s World Book Night event tomorrow, Francesca, Natalie and Thomas were giving great book recommendations to the students, guiding them towards titles they might like. We’re really excited that this is a stepping stone to us reaching even more local students at World Book Night, and generating further community interest in volunteering with us.”

Distributing books at the Hackney Community College campus