Ikea brings literature to the masses with Man Booker reading room

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.

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall is a journalist and editorial consultant and is the former Europe Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.