• April 23 is UNESCO's World Book and Copyright Day.
  • This year, it's encouraging readers to challenge themselves by picking up a book from a new genre or topic area.
  • For inspiration, we asked our Book Club readers what they have most enjoyed reading during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Escaping into a good book has perhaps never been quite as needed as during the past year.

Book sales have soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people around the globe looked for inspiration and education - and in some countries the number of books read has doubled, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

April 23 marks UNESCO's World Book and Copyright Day. And this year, it's celebrating the power of books to "combat isolation, reinforce ties between people and expand our horizons, while stimulating our minds and creativity."

It's also encouraging people to step outside of their reading comfort zones, by exploring new topics, formats, or genres that are "out of your ordinary".

So if you're looking to challenge yourself to read a new book on World Book Day, here are 10 picks from our Book Club members.

1. Caste: The Origins Of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Chosen by reader Travis Equality Day, Caste was also our Book Club pick in September 2020. An exploration of race and the unspoken caste system that has shaped the US, Caste received wide critical acclaim and there are plans for a TV adaptation.

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
Image: Penguin

2. Factfulness by Hans Rosling

Chosen by reader Khanhvy Duongngoc, who says: "The book provides plenty of facts and figures covering various global issues with rationally optimistic perspective. Though there are many statistics, graphs and charts, reading this book turns out to be quite an emotional journey, mostly due to the unique way the author looks at the world."

Factfulness by Hans Rosling
Image: Macmillan

What is the World Economic Forum's Book Club?

The World Economic Forum launched its official Book Club on Facebook in April 2018. Readers worldwide are invited to join and discuss a variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. It is a private Facebook group dedicated to discussing one book every month.

Each month, we announce a new book on our social media channels. We then publish an extract and begin a chapter-by-chapter discussion with group members. Selected comments and questions are sent to the author, who in return sends us a video response.

Unlike other book clubs, the group features the direct involvement of the authors, giving you - our global audience with members all around the globe - a chance to directly connect with some of the most influential thinkers and experts in the world.

We have featured authors such as Steven Pinker, Elif Shafak, Yuval Noah Harari, and Melinda Gates.

You can join the Book Club here.

Follow us on Twitter here.

Follow us on Instagram here.

3. Educated by Tara Westover

Olivia Krishanty chose this moving memoir of Westover's extraordinary struggle to be free from an abusive family, who never sent her to school.

Educated by Tara Westover
Image: Penguin

4. 21 Lessons For The 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

Another former Book Club pick and popular among our readers, in 21 Lessons, Harari takes the pulse of the world. He told a session at Davos that humanity faces three existential threats: nuclear war, ecological collapse and technological disruption. "Even if we disappear, it will not be the end of the world. Something will survive us. Perhaps the rats will eventually take over and rebuild civilization."

21 Lessons for the 21st Century
Image: Vintage

5. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Reader Nikita Garg chose this epic tale of four graduates who try to make their way in New York, buoyed only by their friendship and ambition.

Hanya Yanagihara
Image: Pan Macmillan

6. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Alex Court enjoyed this book about racial politics in the US so much, he read it twice. "The characters and their stories are so engrossing I didn’t realise what I was learning until I got to the end."

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Image: Dialogue Books

7. A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and sentenced to house arrest in a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Book Club member Rachna Kalra says: "I loved the writing, descriptions and the idea of spending the rest of your life in one place suddenly did not feel depressing."

A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles
Image: Windmill Books

8. The Murmur Of Bees by Sofia Segovia

Cristina Gonzalez chose this "beguiling" Mexican fiction, set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution and the influenza of 1918. It tells the story of one family and a mysterious child.

The Murmur Of Bees by Sofia Segovia
Image: Amazon Crossing

9. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

A modern classic and perennial favourite, The Kite Runner tells the tale of childhood friends, Amir and Hassan, growing up together in Kabul - and it was chosen by reader Syed Ishrat.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Image: Bloomsbury

10. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Amare Geremew chose this international bestseller, in which DiAngelo explains the concept of 'White Fragility', how systemic racism is often perpetuated by the reactions white people have to being told they have unintentionally caused offence.

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
Image: Penguin