The website of this week’s World Book Night is flanked by the words ‘because everything changes when we read’ (see more in my post below). Having decided to donate Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch as a Community Book Giver, the strap line resonated when I made my choice. More on that idea shortly, but what happened when I tried to donate a brand-new book to a total stranger?
As Fever Pitch is about football, I went to the Trafford ‘Soccerdome’, where I play five-a-side with mates every week, to find someone who had lost the habit of reading and was willing to briefly hear me out. Nearly twenty people said sorry, they had plans, and I suppose all World Book Night volunteers had to take account of everyone’s busy lives.
But after half an hour, someone who was early for his game gave me the benefit of the doubt. Alastair told me that apart from a handful of autobiographies last touched some time ago, reading was not on his radar. A 27-year-old builder surveyor, he said that whenever he did kick back, distractions on his iPad would take over; a familiar story, I suspect.
At first Alastair couldn’t understand why I was just giving him a book, but he seemed genuine when he said he would give it a go. I told him I hoped Fever Pitch is a memoir he would relate to.
Published in 1992, its timing was impeccable, evaluating the state of the game just as it was about to reinvent itself into the polished product it is today. Some even go as far as saying Fever Pitch set the scene, became the self-fulfilling prophecy.
I’m not so sure about that, but this is a book about our national game and our national fabric, our history and our future, and I think it should be treasured.
For me, the best of all was that Fever Pitch and its engaging style inspired me to read fiction, including some of Hornby’s novels, and I have never looked back. It could take Alastair’s reading in one of several directions. I wish him all the best.
I intend to blog every other Friday. If there’s anything you want me to discuss in future posts feel free to get in touch.