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#BuyBooksForSyria - Waterstones Rallies Authors and Publishers to Provide Aid

What's better than donating money and knowing that it's going to a valuable cause? Getting a great book in the process. To this end, Waterstones have kicked off the #BuyBooksForSyria campaign. They've enlisted the help of several big name publishers including Harper Collins, Penguin Random House and Hachette (as well as a few smaller ones) to build up a selection of stocked books from which 100% of sales proceeds will go to Oxfam's Syria Crisis Appeal.

These aren't back-of-the-shelf doorstop candidates, either. The selected books range across a wide array of genres and styles and a myriad of famous authors have involved themselves with the project, including Neil Gaiman, Salmon Rushdie, Ali Smith, Ian Rankin, Lee Child, Alan Bennet, Hilary Mantel, Jacqueline Wilson, Philip Pullman and David Walliams. Once the initiative starts properly on Thursday, the selected books will be displayed in store fronts across all 280 Waterstones shops, as well as being marked with stickers, should you find them elsewhere in the shop.

Since being announced, the campaign has set Twitter on fire. As well as all the affiliated parties banding the hashtag about to aid promotion, thousands of people have supported and praised it, citing the combination of raising money for a good cause and encouraging further reading as a potent, ingenious one. There has, of course, been a sprinkling of criticism, mostly suggesting that it's a 'lazy' way of doing something for charity, an argument which seems to completely sidestep the notion that the people buying the books are more than capable of doing other things to help Syrian refugees as well. As a great man once said, "Stupid is as stupid does."

Waterstones are hoping to raise £1 million from this, and publishers have supplied thousands of copies of each book involved to make sure that this happens. Many of the books are highly sought-after, with sales records remaining consistently high since first publishing, such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Kite Runner, Midnight's Children,  and War Horse. You've been meaning to read at least one of those and you know it. The money will, in part, go to providing clean water for hundreds of thousands of desperate Syrians still in the country, it will also be helping displaced Syrians in areas like Jordan and Lebanon as well as European choke points like Macedonia and Greece.

The fact that this initiative isn't aimed purely at helping refugees is an encouraging sign. Throughout this crisis, the focus has always been on those fleeing Syria, despite the fact that there are still so many people either unable or unwilling to leave, wondering every day how much longer they can survive. It shouldn't take the offer of a new book to encourage people to do a little more in aid of these people, but if you can promote literacy whilst also addressing some of the worst suffering on the planet, I'd mark that down as a win-win.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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#BuyBooksForSyria - Waterstones Rallies Authors and Publishers to Provide Aid Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 Rating: 5

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