How to win free books for life

It's a reader's dream come true. A London bookshop has announced a competition that will award the winner with a lifetime of free literature.

A London bookshop has announced an unusual competition that has booklovers salivating the world over. In celebration of its 80th anniversary, Heywood Hill is asking readers to submit the name of a single book that has meant the most to them. It has to have been published in English, or translated into English, since 1935 – the year in which Heywood Hill opened.

The lucky winner, determined by draw after the competition closes on October 31st, will receive one newly published, hardcover book every month for the rest of his or her life, mailed anywhere in the world. This program is already offered by the bookshop, called ‘A Year in Books,’ which normally costs £350 annually. (There are similar subscriptions available for children’s books, paperbacks, literary reviews, and expats, as well as bi-monthly options.)

The Guardian cites Karin Scherer, a senior bookseller at Heywood Hill:

“For the winner it will be an intellectual adventure of a lifetime… Every reader in the world will want to know about this life-changing prize. Whoever wins the first prize will never have to buy a book again. Instead they can look forward to a lifelong relationship with our bookshop and our booksellers.”

A relationship it is, indeed. The winner will enjoy a detailed consultation with Heywood Hill’s booksellers to determine their tastes in literature, which will then be taken into consideration for every monthly pick. Scherer says: “Every person is different. Before we start, we will sit down with the prize winner and find out their reading preferences, and any likes and dislikes.”

What a lovely way to celebrate good literature and the power of books to change lives. Enough with all the depressing headlines these days about parents not wanting their kids to read fiction anymore, of diminishing literary ability and interest in the humanities, of paper books dying out and giving way to e-readers! This competition reignites the fire, makes us excited about the novelty of a story, contained within the crisp, clean pages of a new book, and nostalgic for the ones that have shaped us as individuals.

Of course, I had to ask the TreeHugger team, all of us committed bibliophiles, what each would suggest. Editor-in-chief Melissa said Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. Comments moderator Tarrant chose The Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. Lloyd named 1984 by George Orwell. TreeHugger’s former food columnist Kelly Rossiter opted for Atonement by Ian McEwan. I’d have to say Karen Connelly’s Touch the Dragon, not because it's the greatest book I've ever read, but because it changed the course of my life at a young age.

What would you choose?

Tags: Books | London

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