Save the Children with Books!



Waterstones has launched an industry-wide campaign to raise £1m by urging people to “Buy Books for Syria”.

In an unprecedented step, the industry’s top publishers from Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster to indies such as Profile Books and Canongate are donating titles from big name authors such as David Walliams, Neil Gaiman, Victoria Hislop and Ali Smith for Waterstones to sell through their stores under the ‘Buy Books for Syria’ banner, with 100% of the retail price going towards Oxfam’s Syria Crisis Appeal.

The charity promotion will begin on Thursday (1st October) with titles displayed on tables front of store in Waterstones’ 280 shops, stickered with the ‘Buy Books for Syria’ name.

The offerings will include both frontlist and backlist titles from a vast array of authors including Mary Beard, Alan Bennett, Michael Bond, William Boyd, Bill Bryson, Tracy Chevalier, Lee Child and Julia Donaldson.

The company’s m.d, James Daunt, is committed to launching the appeal despite it being the industry’s most crucial time of the year in the run up to Christmas.

He said: “In desperate times like these, everyone feels the need to do something, to help in some way. We are doing what we do best: bookselling, and it only feels right that every single penny of each book sold will go straight to Oxfam. We are proud to be able transform the generosity of authors and publishers into such a substantial contribution to Oxfam’s work.”

He told The Bookseller that “some-perhaps most” of the sales would substitute “sales upon which otherwise we would be earning money” in the run up to Christmas but added that the company was “very fortunate to have an owner and board who have put this to one side and supported the initiative.” Waterstones is owned by Russian oligarch Alexander Mamut.

Tom Weldon, c.e.o of Penguin Random House UK, added: “We often speak as an industry about the power of books to change lives – our aim with this campaign is to use the power of books to save lives. I’m humbled by the way publishers and authors are collaborating to support Waterstones and Oxfam in this initiative. I hope that together we can make a difference.”

The original idea for the campaign came from Profile editor Mark Ellingham. The titles in the appeal include Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Profile), War Horse by Michael Morpurgo (Egmont), Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (Vintage), One Day by David Nicholls (Hodder), The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury) and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Quercus/MacLehose), among others. Publishers have provided between 1,000 and 2,000 copies of all the titles to be sold for the appeal.

Support from UK publishers includes Atlantic Books, Bloomsbury, Canongate, Egmont, Faber, Granta, Hachette, HarperCollins, Pan Macmillan, Penguin Random House UK, Profile, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster and Usborne.

Other authors involved in the appeal include Mark Haddon, Matt Haig, Robert Harris, Khaled Hosseini, Max Hastings, Marian Keyes, Linda La Plante, Andrea Levy, Hilary Mantel, Peter May, Alexander McCall Smith, Caitlin Moran, Michael Morpugo, JoJo Moyes, David Nicholls, Ian Rankin, Tom Rob Smith, Salman Rushdie and Jacqueline Wilson.

Nicholls said: “This is a wonderful initiative, turning our passion for the written word into practical help at a time of terrible crisis.”

Smith added: “I support this initiative with heart, mind and soul.”

Mark Goldring, c.e.o of Oxfam, said the £1m of raised would help its program of delivering clean water to another 150,000 people in Syria, or providing support to tens of thousands of people in Jordan over the next year. “This help is urgently needed as the conflict in Syria shows no sign of ending,” he said.

Earlier in the month, authors and publishers lead by Patrick Ness helped to raise over £600,000 for Save the Children’s refugee appeal by pledging to match donations from members of the public.

Helping those in the refugee camps is important. There have not been this many refugees in Europe since WWII. Hey, Rock world, how about a benefit concert? Let’s all come up with ideas to help these poor people who have lost everything. They are our brothers and sisters. This is one world and we all share it.



Meaning Crisis

Lake Erie sunset by Barbara Mattio

Finding our voice is most important to any artist, regardless of their medium. Looking for the authentic voice within is important for all creative people but it is not always easy.  All people, including all artists must find their authentic self within. That doesn’t happen without real work and self examination. This is not an easy excavation but it is a necessary one for each of us. Finding inner authenticity is harder than most imagine.

There are those who hear the call early, as early as 6, and find their voices. The voice of a creative person is one that leads them to the place where they know they are separate, yet they are not alone.

We struggle to fill our bellies, we must find a shelter for our heads. As humans we stop at times, just a pause and look with wonder at what we find around us. There is only one conclusion we can come to. Without the creativity we have inside,  we are shocked by the world. By the emptiness of the world without, art, literature, music, performance art. Without art, life can appear to be an empty vessel. We have a great desire to fill the empty vessel with the beauty within us. We have to create. We have to have solitude at times to find the deepest parts of our souls. That is what gives us the urgent need to continue to create. The creations represent our humanness and we find our solace and courage.

The courage to be an artist is great. It takes a greater need to produce something which reflects what is inside than to protect our egos and souls from the words of others due to our creation. This is a joy and a burden for artists.

We are subject to meaning crisis. Sometimes these can lead to depression which is why it is so important to be aware of every moment that The One is within us and therefore we do have meaning.

Meaning comes and goes, it ebbs and flows. We must, as creative people learn how to find meaning for ourselves. Life can puncture us and our meaning can leak like an old rusty pipe. Meaning then drains away and we are left to dry up and become unproductive. This is what we must be aware of and change before it lasts too long and we aren’t able to hear the voice within. Each of us must find our own meaning and keep the spark of meaning fed and the spark burning bright. We must not let this effort wear us out. If you are an artist, you are supposed to create and to make the mainstream search the lack of meaning in their own lives. For all who have not struggled with meaning and for those who haven’t tried, depression can be a huge roadblock. We need to find out what we need to make our life meanful. Start now and you will find a new life in your creativity. The beauty you create will make everyone experience your meaning. That increases their own meaning.