Big City Reads is back! From the 4th of July to the 12th of August, we’ll be handing out free books across Nottingham. This year, we have four books championed by the city’s young people, inspiring the city with the mood-boosting power of words.

We want all of Nottingham’s young people to feel empowered through the joy of reading and the ability books have to support mental health and wellbeing.


  • Furthermoor, Darren Simpson’s shadowy fantasy novel where imagined worlds and escapism help a young boy deal with grief.
  • Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry, the hilarious rom-com from Joya Goffney, that celebrates the joy of being true to yourself and the ability to change.
  • The Sad Ghost Clubfrom Bristolian graphic novelist Lize Meddings, a story of empathy and understanding in the face of loneliness and anxiety.
  • Punching the Air, the award-winning novel written in searingly potent verse by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam, is inspired by Salaam’s own experiences of racial injustice as a teenager.

The books were selected from a long list chosen by members of our Youth Advisory Board, Young City of Literature Ambassadors, Nottingham College students and other readers across the city. When we last ran Big City Reads in 2019, one of our book choices was Alice Osman’s Heartstopper, now taking the world by storm as a Netflix adaptation.

The free books can be found in creative spaces around the city, local cafes, libraries, and public transport; and distributed by local organisations; we will be giving regular clues via our social media throughout the campaign. We’ll also be popping up across the city to give away books: look out for us in our aquamarine. Check us out on Twitter (@nottmcityoflit) Instagram (@nottmcityoflit ) and Facebook ( /NottinghamCityOfLiterature).

Big City Reads is made possible by the support of the National Lottery through Arts Council England; Nottingham City Council and Nottingham City Libraries..

Big City Reads will be running from Monday 4th of July, until Friday 12th of August.

Hannah Trevarthen, Director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature said: “Big City Reads is a wonderful gift to the young people of Nottingham, bringing to them an opportunity to pick up a free book and experience the sheer joy of reading – across the four title selected we are sure everyone in the city will find a jewel to inspire, empower, and enjoy”.