Today the long list for the Man Booker Prize long list is launched with support from a very unlikely partner, Ikea.
The flat pack furniture retailer – known for raising stress levels with its scant instructions and missing parts – is inviting customers to relax in a comfortable reading area at its Wembley store, where copies of the Man Booker long listed books are being given away for free.
You can book an hour-long slot to lounge around on Ikea furniture and browse the Billy bookcases for your pick of reading material, but you’d better be quick – the pop-up reading room is open for one week only. This year’s list includes a graphic novel for the first time, a crime novel, and three young female authors, so there should be something for everyone.
Ikea says that reading for just six minutes a day can be enough to reduce stress levels by more than two-thirds, but with most of us too busy scrolling through our phones whenever we have a moment, nearly 10 per cent of Brits haven’t read a book in the last year, and a third of us only do it when we are on our summer holiday.
Gaby Wood, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, has got it right. She says: “If you associate reading with holidays then you probably associate it with indulgence. And – it’s true – reading fiction can be, at its best, a form of escapism. But that doesn’t make it a guilty pleasure. It’s more like a fast route to better health. Our homes are filled with devices that allow the digital world to encroach on our private lives. Reclaim your privacy, and your imagination: read a book.”
With the Women’s Prize for Fiction struggling to find a sponsor – it used to be Baileys and before that it was Orange – it’s good to see brands getting behind literature.