In March 2011, the UK is to see one of the strangest, and yet most appealing book events I've ever come across. March 5 has been declared World Book Night. On that evening 1 million (no, that's not a misprint) books will be given away.
Around 20,000 people will each be given 48 copies of a book they would like to champion in giving to other people. Given, as in for free. The idea is that these book ambassadors will give out these titles, encouraging others to read them and to start reading more. I don't know if it will work, but it's a brave initiative. If you live in the UK you can request to be one of the 20,000 by signing up at the World Book Night website.
Why only two cheers? I think non-fiction is unfairly under-represented (and not particular well covere by the selection available) - I would have liked to see it 50:50. And for that matter, I think restricting the books to 25 titles to choose between is even more restrictive. The person giving the books away should be passionate about the specific title, and the chances are most readers won't be passionate about most of these books. I really can't find any that I'd be happy to talk positively about. So it would have been much better to make it 48 copies of a title of your choice - though I appreciate that would make the logistics harder.
Despite those reservations, though, it remains a brilliant idea. If one of the titles does appeal to you, why not volunteer - it could be fun!