Page Against the Machine goes global!
Join us in person or online to celebrate the mindful and ‘rebellious’ act of reading!

In celebration of Norwich’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature, we’re leading a global event which unites cities and book lovers across the world in the mindful and ‘rebellious’ act of reading!

Page Against the Machine is a weekly reading event founded and hosted by independent bookshop The Book Hive which encourages participants to set aside an hour of time for quiet reading in the shop. On Saturday 27 May, a special outdoor edition of the event will take place in The Plantation Garden on Earlham Road as part of the City of Literature strand of Norfolk & Norwich Festival – a weekend programme of words and ideas presented by Norfolk & Norwich Festival and National Centre for Writing (NCW), programmed by NCW. Audiences are invited to ‘pick a book, bring a cool drink and turn off your phone for a well-deserved detox read’.

This year, in recognition of Norwich’s tenth anniversary as England’s first UNESCO City of Literature, other cities across the international creative network will be hosting simultaneous ‘Page Against the Machine’ events in their own literary cities!

Leeuwarden UNESCO City of Literature, Netherlands

Pick a book, bring a blanket and a cool drink and turn off your phone for a well-deserved detox read in the beautiful surroundings of the Prinsentuin public park in Leeuwarden UNESCO City of Literature, in the Netherlands. Find out more →

Ernst Bruinsma, managing director of Leeuwarden UNESCO City of Literature, said:

‘Reading opens up new worlds. A book lifts you into a time and space that is bigger than yourself. Sharing that sizzling feeling with each other is an important reason to organize this day together with other UNESCO Cities of Literature. During Page Against the Machine, people in different time dimensions and in different places in the world will read and share stories. In this way, a basically solitary activity such as reading and absorbing a story becomes a valuable shared experience. And bigger than Leeuwarden.’

Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, UK

Join Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature in the picturesque Bromley House Library Garden as part of Nottingham Poetry Festival 2023. Find out more →

Paty Bennett from Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature said:

‘We are very excited to be part of the international Page Against the Machine programme at Nottingham this year. We are thrilled to bring people together to read, disconnect from everyday life and technology, and to create a nourishing experience in one of Nottingham’s hidden gems: Bromley House’s garden.’

Exeter UNESCO City of Literature, UK

Exeter UNESCO City of Literature’s bumper edition of Page includes five great spots around the city: The Devon & Exeter Institution, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter Library, Bookbag and Exeter Cathedral. Find out more →

Liv Hooper, Communities & Programmes Associate at Exeter City of Literature, said:

‘We’re so excited to be partnering with five fantastic local organisations to provide time and space for readers of Exeter across the day. Our city has been a readers paradise since the 10th Century and we’re proud to carry on this tradition with our fellow UNESCO Cities of Literature.’


Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature, Australia

Put down that device, listen up and enjoy a quiet moment to read in a reading nook at the Brimbank Libraries in Melbourne. You can also enjoy afternoon tea! Find out more →

Scott Steensma from Brimbank Libraries in Melbourne added:

‘Page Against the Machine is exactly the sort of event that Brimbank Libraries likes to get involved with. It’s a chance for our library visitors to read together, to share their love of reading over a cup of tea and a biscuit, and for us to promote the health and wellbeing benefits of reading.

‘Being able to work with the Cities of Literature on this has been genuinely exciting – collaborating with organisations around the world to bring people together and help them make meaningful social connections is one of the many ways that libraries can change lives for the better.’

Meanwhile, at Merri-bek Libraries, readers of all ages can enjoy a performance from Stig Wemyss, a much-loved narrator of audio books such as the Treehouse series and Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe. Find out more →

‘On Saturday 27 May we will be together in spirit. Turning pages, and diving into books.’

Barbara Micozzi said:

‘Merri-bek Libraries are looking forward to putting a spotlight on reading for pleasure at their event to celebrate Page Against the Machine. Stig Wemyss (a much-loved children’s audiobook narrator) will perform his live show at Brunswick Town Hall and then join the children and families in the library to browse a wide selection of new books available for reading and borrowing.

‘I think it is a wonderful opportunity for families to enjoy the pleasure of choosing books and reading together, especially with so many other competing commitments and activities. Knowing we are part of a larger network of book lovers has been very inspiring, and working with the Wheeler Centre in the Melbourne City of Literature has been a dream.’

Manchester UNESCO City of Literature, UK

Manchester UNESCO City of Literature invite you to opt for an environment and nature-themed book and read peacefully with them in the lovely surroundings of Manchester’s newest green space, Castlefield Viaduct. Find out more →

Slemani UNESCO City of Literature, Iraq

Slemani invites readers in person and online to take a break and enjoy some quiet reading across the city. Find out more →

Kuhmo UNESCO City of Literature, Finland

In Kuhmo, Koneiden sivu(u)tus will be held on the banks of the beautiful Pajakkakoski rapid, near the Ikola vicarage where Elias Lönnrot worked on certain parts of Finland’s national epic, The Kalevala.

Aino Ainali from Kuhmo UNESCO City of Literature said:

‘By participating in this project we wish to foster a sense of unity. Not only in our local community, but within our Cities of Literature network, also. This project is a great example of literature’s power of building bridges. We come from different corners of the world, speaking different languages, but on Saturday 27 May we will be together in spirit. Turning pages, and diving into books.’

Thinking of coming along to one of these locations, or joining in from home? Make sure to take a picture of your chosen book and reading spot, and share it with us on social media using the hashtag #PageAgainsttheMachine.

About Page Against the Machine

Page Against the Machine was created in 2017 by bookseller Joe Hedinger in response to research from the UK charity The Reading Agency, which found that 67% of UK adults would like to read more. He said:

‘The research found that reading wasn’t just for entertainment. Nearly two thirds of people said they’d like to turn to a book in times of stress, anxiety or illness. However, people struggle to find time to read, because the demands and distractions of hectic lifestyles get in the way.

‘Our idea was to think about reading as a practice. Rather than snatching a few lines before bed or on your commute, what if reading was something you committed regular time to — just like putting an hour aside for the gym, yoga or meditation?

‘Considering the pace of modern life, taking a moment to slow down and focus on one thing isn’t just good for our wellbeing – it’s actually quite a rebellious act!’

In partnership with The Book Hive. Supported by the UNESCO Cities of Literature network.


City of Literature is a Norfolk & Norwich Festival and National Centre for Writing presentation, programmed by the National Centre for Writing.

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