I spent a lovely afternoon giving away copies of Guards! Guards! to people visiting the Brunswick Festival in Hove. It was great to have so many lovely conversations about books and reading.
City Reads is essentially a city-wide book group, with the tag-line “One book, a thousand conversations.” So people (individually as well as part of already existing book groups) are encouraged to read the chosen book throughout the festival and, well, talk about it! There are also a series of events themed around the book, which you can read more about on their website: www.cityreads.co.uk
The festival has been going for a few years now – the philosophy stays the same, the book changes. It was amazing some of the reactions of people coming to the stall – one of the most common being to the cover of the book.
Josh Kirby’s artwork is synonymous with the Discworld books – the ensemble of characters rushing to greet you as you pick up each edition telling you something of what will happen in the story, without ever giving too much of the game away. Some people hate it. It would appear that the book(s) have very much been judged by their covers and having the plain black edition available certainly did seem to encourage some people to pick up the book and have a read, who genuinely didn’t seem interested otherwise!
I like both covers – one for familiarity, the other as it just seems a bit more sophisticated – and I really do think that people don’t credit Sir Terry with enough sophistication. His books may include magic and dragons and dwarfs and a world which exists on the back of four giant elephants, astride a giant turtle that swims through space, but they are also a form of social commentary. The characters are fantastic and they’re silly, but there is something really REAL about them.
I’m about half way through Guards! Guards! And I will post a review when I’ve finished – have you read it yet?!