Off duty librarian wins with novel romance

Squeezing some Mills and Boon romance into her evening paid dividends for Book Night winner Wendy Horne.

"I read for escapism," says Wendy. "I was reading a trashy romance; I hope no-one will diss me for that!"

The Upper Hutt librarian won the 16-years and over prize draw of the nationwide reading event, which is run by Book Discussion Scheme. Wendy received $175 in book vouchers sponsored by business software company Chreos Business Solutions.

The mother of two boys is one of 2146 adults and children across the country, from Northland to Stewart Island, who participated in Book Night on 22 May. The prize draw was open to anyone who read for at least 15 minutes and registered on-line on the Book Night website.

"I like reading historical romance... usually Regency, early 1800s," says Wendy. "The ones I normally read have a little bit of sex in them - not 'he gives her a kiss' and that's the end of the chapter sort-of-thing! In the last couple of years I've read quite a bit of New Zealand historical fiction, too."

Wendy managed to fit in an hour and a half's reading at home, between a full day's work as the library's Digital Services and Training Coordinator and venturing out on the cold night to play indoor cricket.

"We had done all the dinner and stuff by about 6 o'clock and I had to go out by twenty to nine to play indoor cricket. It was absolutely pouring with rain and hailing. We just turned off the TV and I read," she says.

Book club organisation Book Discussion Scheme introduced Book Night three years ago as a way to promote reading and its benefits. It is loosely based on a similar event held in the UK.

"It's not what you read that counts but the fact that you are reading," says Barbara Brown, manager of the Scheme. "Whether its romance or rugby, paper books or e-books, the important thing is for people to enjoy what they read and to make reading a habit."

According to New Zealand Book Council statistics about 400,000 Kiwis a year don't read a book.

"That's something we'd like to help change," says Barbara. "We know from research that regular reading is a key way to improve children's abilities and develop empathy. Also, it's shown to reduce stress and to maintain brain function in older people."

More than 30 community activities were held at schools, libraries and other venues as part of Book Night. Upper Hutt Library ran a pyjama party, for families of young children, at its temporary premises in the CBD Towers on Main Street.

Wendy says her library colleagues are a bit jealous of her prize. However, rather than spend all her winnings on herself, she intends to gift half to her younger son's primary school.

"My son loves graphic novels. His school has a small library so I'd like them to buy some books," she says.

Other Book Night prize winners are Sean Wansbrough, principal of Mount Somers Springburn School in Mid Canterbury, and pre-schooler Jett Wait from Hamilton, who had help from his mum Lisa-Marie to register for the event.

First-prize sponsor Steven WIld, the CEO of Chreos Business Solutions, says: "Reading has become a really important part of my life and I see the benefit of the experience in my children and grandchildren.  While it isn't our core business, we have been really impressed with what BDS does to foster reading and community, and once again we have been privileged to partner with BDS in this event."


Book Night winner Wendy Horne (centre), from Upper Hutt, receives $175 book vouchers from local BDS members Della Davis (L) and UPHU 007 convenor Sue Dunscombe (R) on behalf of Book Discussion Scheme and prize sponsor Chreos Business Solutions.  
Photo supplied by Upper Hutt Libraries

The Book Discussion 
Scheme is a member of the Federation of Workers Educational Associations in Aotearoa New Zealand
BDS is a member of the Federation of Workers Educational Associations