Posted by on in Hay Festival

For the third year running, we’re delighted to be partnering with the Hay Festival, where we now host our annual lecture.  With a stand at the festival for the full 10-day run, it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet festival-goers and take part in the celebration of ideas and imagination that is Hay.

This year, to mark the 25 year anniversary of the festival, a panel of writers and thinkers who have taken part in the festival over the years have devised a list of 25 questions for audiences to answer, asking us all to consider ‘the way we live now’.

Inspired, as ever, by The London Library collections, we have selected books that may help shape a response to the thought-provoking questions asked. We encourage you to join in and put forward your ideas and opinions. You can register on the Hay Festival website and respond to the questions online, as well as read hand-picked answers from contributors. The questionnaire will be open all year, at festivals across the world.

From smells and seasons to economics, equality and happiness – share your thoughts and read and consider the thoughts of others… The project offers a fascinating insight into the perspectives of a truly global audience.

the way we live now  #twwln


1. Why do we read novels?

2. 25 years ago, the whole world lived in fear of an aids pandemic, the Berlin wall divided east and Western Europe, China and Latin America were considered part of the developing world and less than 1% of the world’s population used mobile phones or computers. What changes will we see to the way we live now in 25 years time?

3. What was the last thing you made with your hands?

4. Which smell makes you happiest?

5. Do you think we are reaching a point at which technological ‘progress’ kills the spirit and what we are or will it liberate us all?

6. Which freedoms are you prepared to trade for greater security?

7. How can we see the ratio of women to men reach equality in every walk of life, from birth to death, in education, work and play?

8. What would you do if you knew you would never be caught?

9. What piece of writing has most changed your heart and mind? Phrase, lyric, letter, book, poem, inscription.

10. Would you like the United States of America to a) grow stronger? b) stay more or less the same? c) grow weaker? Why?

11. 25 years from now climate change will have created over 100 million refugees. Where should they go?

12. Are you happy? If yes, why? If not, is there something you can do about it?

13. How will the world benefit from a realignment of economic superpower in the 21st century?

14. Are religion and democracy incompatible?

15. Half the world’s languages are so seriously endangered that they are likely to die out during the course of this century. Does it matter?

Ancient Welsh Poetry: Specimens of the Poetry of the Ancient Welsh Bards (1862)

16. What determines what food you buy?

17. Will genetically modified crops and lab meat save the world from famine?

18. What can the country and the city learn from each other?

19. If you became the leader of your country what would you fix first?

20. Which season matters most to you and why?

21. Mental health problems afflict 25% of us every year. Do we need to treat the perception of mental illness in the sufferer or in society?

22. Is it possible to truly care about events that will happen after the death of one’s great grandchildren?

23. Teach us something important that you know.

24. Which living leaders, writers, scientists, and artists, are opening the doors of the future for humankind?

25. We’re building a library of literature, music and cinema. Which one book, film and album would you contribute to it?

Histoire de la Ceramique by Ed Garnier

From S. Perfume - Rose Recipes by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde (1939)

The Book of Perfumes by Eugene Rimmel (1867)

The Library's S. Women collections

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