Stoke top ten best reads

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'Stoke's best reads'

Stoke-on-Trent's NYR steering group wanted to create a project that was simple, could involve all of Stoke's residents, and would generate a lot of local publicity. We decided to ask as many people as possible to recommend either their favourite book or one which had a special significance to them. From this we would create top ten lists for adults, teens and childrens books, and use these books as a basis for further projects, for example, reading challenges and a 'books in the wild' exercise.


Post-it note week

We started with a 'Post-it note week', held last May. Around the city, in libraries, museums, schools, sandwich shops, coffee bars, fire stations, the university and the railway station we put up huge, red, not-to-be-missed posters inviting people to post up a book title.


Responses

Nearly two and a half thousand people voted over the course of the week, for titles as diverse as car manuals, women's magazines, the Bible and the Koran, as well as the titles you would expect. Top of the list for adults came 'Lord of the Rings', with 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' for children and 'Northern Lights' for teens.


Publicity

The exercise attracted a lot of publicity. As well as features in the local paper, a photograph of Nick Hancock reading his favourite book appeared in the city council's own newspaper, delivered to all homes in Stoke (Nick's favourite is 'The Great Gatsby').


Partnerships

The project has helped us develop partnerships with our local Waterstone's as well as the local independent bookshop, plus other commercial enterprises - Costa, Starbucks, and even the local chip shop.


Books in the wild

We have now launched 'Books in the wild', working with Staffordshire University. The recommended reads are displayed in libraries and bookshops, inviting people to borrow or buy, and to read and review them. We have also put copies in places where people don't expect to normally find books - the railway station cafe, coffee shops, staff rooms, student union bars and waiting rooms. Each location has publicity inviting people to take the book, review it on a special postcard, hand the card in and leave the book for someone else to find. All postcards will be put into a special prize draw at Christmas, and the lucky winner gets a Wii console. The best reviews will go into a special publication - 'Stoke's best reads' - which will form part of Stoke's National Year of Reading legacy.

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