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Richard Ovenden & Will Self

Richard Ovenden & Will Self - The Threat to Books

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Richard Ovenden’s ‘Burning the Books’ describes the deliberate destruction of the knowledge safeguarded in libraries from Alexandria to Sarajevo, from smashed Assyrian tablets to the torching of the Library of Congress while Will Self’s most recent book, ‘Why Read: Selecting Writings 2001-2021’ ask readers how, what and ultimately why we should read in an ever-changing world. Richard and Will share a discussion on the history of book-burning, the contemporary focus on cancel culture, the removal of titles from public spaces such as libraries and schools, and the effect that this is having on people’s access to literature, creativity and ideas internationally.

Richard Ovenden is Director of the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Balliol College. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2019, is a member of the American Philosophical Society, and serves as Treasurer of the Consortium of European Research Libraries and President of the Digital Preservation Coalition.

Will Self is the author of many novels and books of non-fiction, including ‘Great Apes’, ‘The Book of Dave’, ‘How the Dead Live’, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of the Year 2002, ‘The Butt’, winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction 2008, and a trilogy of Zack Busner novels – 'Umbrella', which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2012, and 'Shark' and 'Phone.’ Of his most recent book ‘Why Read’, The Guardian commented that Will Self 'makes you think, but he also insists that you feel.’

This event will be chaired by Steven Gale.


The Shape of Things to Come, our forward-thinking Book Festival returns this autumn. Running from Friday 18 November to the following Sunday 27 November 2022, Folkestone Book Festival will present a celebration of writing, reading, thinking and debate.

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