The CWA’s National Crime Reading Month a Blazing Success this June
With over 150 events from the Channel Islands to the tip of Scotland via ambassador Emma Christie’s camper van in Croatia and institutions such as the British Library and Senate House, National Crime Reading Month 2023 has been declared a huge success by the Crime Writers Association and its partner, The Reading Agency.
Kicking off with simultaneous launches in London, Belfast and Edinburgh, National Crime Reading Month director, Irish crime writer Sam Blake, this year focused on the many subgenres within ‘crime’. Sam Blake explains: “From cosy to hardboiled, romantic to dystopian the #pickupapagerturner hashtag linked in-person and online events throughout Britain and Ireland, bringing new readers to every aspect of the genre. I’m thrilled with the number of events and readers that we have reached this year. Our ambassadors have been amazing, organising and attending events in June, and our partnership with The Reading Agency is true synergy.”
The Reading Agency’s Quick Reads series regularly features crime reads, and aims to increase access to reading through shorter, engaging texts by great authors, bringing new readers to the page. Partnering for the sparkling London launch event, hosted by Waterstones Piccadilly, The Reading Agency has brought the NCRM message to libraries, which, together a magnificent response from CWA members, independent bookshops and Waterstones nationwide – and this year, a school – has secured National Crime Reading Month as a key event in the literary calendar.
Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency said: “Through our work with adults, we see the crucial importance of crime writing. As well as being an important genre for reading lovers, crime writing can provide a fantastic route into reading for less confident and emerging readers. It has been a pleasure to work with our partners at Crime Writers Association to bring the joy of crime fiction to people across the UK this summer.”
NCRM events included workshops, talks, panel events, and themed walks, with Weymouth library hosting murder mystery board game sessions. There was ‘literally’ something for every reader. Events listed at the National Crime Reading Month website www.crimereading.com can be searched by location so readers are able to see what’s happening near them. Launch events alone brought over 300 crime lovers together with some of the UK’s biggest authors, with Steve Cavanagh’s star-studded online event reaching another 150 (watch it back at crimereading.com)
Sam Blake says: “We’ve had terrific support from LoveReading.com and we will be linking to their articles, as well as Waterstones recommended reads, podcasts and blog posts – including one focusing on LGBTQ characters – so readers can read/watch or listen back after June. Articles, podcasts and recorded online events will remain on the site until NCRM 2024, giving readers – and authors – a feel for the possibilities.”
This year the CWA welcomed the first school to NCRM where, at Yavneh College in Borehamwood, librarians ran a series of crime-related events. Students were treated to a crime-themed ‘books and biscuits’, a regular lunchtime reading event for years 7-11s. They ran their first ever school-wide murder mystery with clues in the library and beyond, to work out whodunnit. The CWA’s Abi Silver was invited to speak on different types of crime fiction; psychologist Brendi Waks ran a fascinating session on psychopaths for sixth formers and Carl Woolf, criminal advocate, discussed murder cases. Librarians librarians Amanda Blakeley and Laura Brandman said, ‘We have made book displays, including crime fiction, psychology and true crime, and there is a real buzz amongst our students!’
National Crime Reading Month leads up to the prestigious Daggers, the CWA’s internationally recognised awards, this year taking place on 6th July in London.
Vaseem Khan, chair of the CWA said: “This year’s National Crime Reading Month has been bigger and more gripping than ever. The Crime Writers’ Association-led initiative has seen events take place across the country in June, showcasing the broad church that crime fiction now represents and reflecting the enormous appetite for murder and mayhem among the British reading public. Thank you to all those who organised or participated!”