The Belfast Telegraph has teamed up with the Arts Council to encourage people to pick up a book and read.
The One City One Book festival is being hosted locally for the first time in its 14-year history.
A four-week programme of events — held across the city — will focus on the new book by east Belfast author and documentary-maker, Glenn Patterson.
One City One Book Belfast 2012 — which kicked off last night — brings together more than 20 tours, talks and film screenings, hosted by local personalities including Belfast Telegraph contributors Malachi O’Doherty and Ivan Little.
Tonight fashionista Cathy Martin will explore how clothes have changed through the city’s history (Ormeau Library, 6.30pm).
Launched in Seattle in 1998, the festival now spans the globe and is seen as an increasingly important anchor for the publishing world.
Roisin McDonough, chief executive of the Arts Council, said the festival is integral to celebrating the contemporary writers and rich literary heritage of a city which has given us writers such as CS Lewis, John Hewitt, Forrest Reid and Louis MacNeice.
“No matter how much or how little we may think of literature in our daily lives, there will always be one book which moved us when young — and which still has the power to send a shiver up the spine,” she said.
“The Arts Council’s challenge is to keep that fire lit for this generation and for future generations. Our children deserve the same access to the world of their imagination that we enjoyed.”
One City One Book Belfast 2012 focuses on Belfast of the 1800s — the setting for Glenn Patterson’s new book, The Mill For Grinding Old People Young.
The Belfast Telegraph will run a competition tomorrow offering 100 copies of the acclaimed novel.
Set in 1830s Belfast, The Mill For Grinding Old People Young follows Gilbert Rice and his love affair with Polish exile, Maria.
Belfast Telegraph editor Mike Gilson said One City One Book Belfast 2012 was a natural fit for the newspaper.
He said: “The Belfast Telegraph is a big supporter of the vibrant arts and culture scene in Northern Ireland so we jumped at the chance to join the One City One Book project.
“Reading remains a fantastic voyage of discovery and is a habit that we lose at our peril.”