Ireland’s 17th Culture Night will take over streets this Friday and thousands of books will be given away to those on public transportation as part of the Read Mór project.
Each year Culture Night features free events and establishments that stay open late, which drew in more than 1.1 million people last year, the event’s website said. Free books will add to the fun this Friday as the Arts Council is giving out 4,500 books to help mark its 70th anniversary.
Beyond paying for a ride on public transportation Friday, “passengers will have a ticket to the furthest reaches of their imagination from one of 21 different books by Irish-based authors and publishers,” according to Culture Night’s website.
The more than 4,000 books will be given out to passengers on Ireland’s intercity rail system and the Bus Éireann Expressway. The free books include novels, poetry and children’s books in English and Irish. Some audio books will also be passed out.
A ‘diverse’ selection of stories
The selected books for Friday’s Read Mór project are very diverse, Jarlath Gregory, an author originally from Northern Ireland, told Babylon. Gregory’s recent novel, What Love Looks Like, is one of the stories being passed out on Culture Night.
“I was really happy for it because like I was saying it’s a really diverse list,” he said. “I think they’ve managed to cover a lot of different aspects of Irish society with it, which is great.”
What Love Looks Like, Gregory’s fourth book, made the shortlist for the Irish Book Awards Teen and Young Adult Book of the Year in 2021. The story takes place in Dublin in 2015 between the passage of the same-sex marriage referendum and the Gender Recognition Act, which allowed people to have their preferred gender legally recognised.
The book captures an optimistic moment in Irish history for the LGBTQ community, Gregory told Babylon. “So I really wanted to write something that acknowledged how Ireland had changed for queer people,” he said.
Gregory said he’s happy to be alongside many great authors that he respects. When it comes to putting culture directly into people’s hands there’s nothing better than free books, he said.
Free books, where?!
“A Book Conductor” will be handing out books at Heuston Station and Connolly Station in Dublin, Kent Station in Cork and Ceannt Station in Galway. This will begin at 2 p.m. on Friday.
The Sligo, Waterford and Busáras bus stations will also feature book giveaways, along with some lucky trains where books will be gifted onboard. “There will also be a book conductor on board a select number of trains with their library trolley ready to gift passengers a book,” Culture Night’s website said.
A full list of the authors and works that will be given away on Friday is available online.