This year's Maidenhead's Big Read started with a fascinating and amusing presentation by The Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP, who talked about the books she loved reading as a child and the ones that capture her imagination now.
It turns our our former Prime Minister is a bit of a fan of crime and thrillers... she loves trying to work out who the killer might be before she reaches the end of the book and firmly believes that "there is nothing like losing yourself in a good book".
Mrs May commented that books give tremendous joy and the ability to learn so much. You can learn all about history when reading Dickens for example; and we should all be proud of the rich literary history we have in our country from the classics such as Emma and Pride & Prejudice, all the way to modern literature from the likes of J.K. Rowling.
Throughout her life she has enjoyed reading the classics and shared with the audience that her most favourite book of all time is Pride & Prejudice. She loved how Jane Austin captured the time period but also the verbal interplay between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. "Elizabeth is a feisty young woman able to match Mr Darcy linguistically and stand her own ground. It inspires me to consider my own use of our fantastic language", she commented.
As a child her most favourite book was The Wool-Pack, a historical novel written and illustrated by Cynthia Harnett. Set in the Cotswolds near Burford, Oxfordshire, The Wool-Pack begins in 1493 when Nicholas Fetterlock, the twelve-year-old son of a rich wool merchant, learns from his father that he is betrothed to Cecily Bradshaw, the daughter of a rich cloth merchant. Nicholas discovers villainy within the guild: swindlers who may ruin his father's business, at least. Nicholas, Cecily, and a friend determine to stop them.
Mrs May is currently reading Mill on the Floss and also takes time to enjoy books about cricket, recipe books and books that teach her new things on a range of topics; obviously interspersed with crime thrillers and the classics!
Mrs May ended by saying "I enjoy reading, it gives me great pleasure. I want to see more young people reading books, don't lose yourself on social media, lose yourself in a good book. Allow yourself to enter a different world that a great book can take you to. Get your imagination fired up, learn from it and be entertained".
Maidenhead Community Book Festival, organisers of Maidenhead’s Big Read, are pleased to announce that Dame Katherine Grainger has been appointed as the group’s first official patron.
Dame Katherine was the first British woman to win medals at five successive games, with Olympic silver at Rio 2016, gold at London 2012 to add to her silver medals from Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004, and Beijing in 2008, as well as six-time world championships titles in her collection. She serves as an ambassador, patron and board member to a selection of charities and sporting bodies and this was recognised when, to round off an exceptional 20 year career in sport, she became Dame Katherine Grainger in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List for services to sport and charity.
Dame Katherine Grainger commented “I was delighted when asked to be patron of Maidenhead’s Big Read. Ever since I was a small child, books have given me huge pleasure and I can’t imagine life without the joy of reading. Sometimes I feel my house will sink under the weight of all the books in it. The Big Read is an exciting venture and its variety of events offers something of interest and enjoyment to everyone in our community. It deserves to be well supported and I’m absolutely sure it will be.”
Stephan Stephan, Chairman of Maidenhead’s Big Read commented “We cannot thank Dame Katherine Grainger enough for becoming our Patron. Her passion for everything she does, her drive and determination is infectious and as an accomplished author who is passionate about reading, Dame Grainger was the obvious choice to become our Patron.”
Maidenhead's Big Read, organised by Maidenhead Community Book Festival, will run from Saturday 29th February to Sunday 8th March 2020 and includes a whole host of exciting events and activities including Story Telling, author and illustrator interactive events and talks in town; drop in book reading groups, reading to/with a volunteer events, pop-up book shops and book exchanges in the library and Nicholsons Shopping Centre, and these are all complementary to what our local schools are planning. All of which are free to attend, though pre-booking is recommended.
Stephan continued “We want to get everyone in Maidenhead excited about literature, literacy and creativity whilst giving them the tools to create their futures because we believe that everyone can live their dreams through the power of reading and that the future is theirs to write.”