Libraries across Dorset are joining forces with best-selling author Martina Cole, the well loved queen of crime drama, for this year’s Six Book Challenge.

Now in its eight year, the national initiative is organised by The Reading Agency to encourage more people to read. Last year over 35,000 people across the UK took part.

All you have to do is pick six reads of your choice and complete a reading diary. You can also share your reading choices with other participants at the Six Book Challenge website as well as rate and review what you read, and search for your next book.

Many people will know Martina Cole from film and TV adaptations of her novels.

Her most recent novel, ‘The Family’, went straight to No. 1 on the Sunday Times bestseller list. ‘The Take’, which won the British Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year in 2006, was adapted for Sky One, as was ‘The Runaway’.

At the end of the challenge, you will get a certificate and also be entered in a draw to win both national and local prizes.

Staff at all county council run libraries will be on hand to provide help and advice to anyone interested in taking up the challenge, which runs from January until the end of June.

Cllr Peter Finney, cabinet member for community services at Dorset County Council, said: “As a county council, we are very concerned about people who have poor reading skills. “We are encouraging people in Dorset to take up the Six Book Challenge and uncover the sheer pleasure of reading and the benefits it brings. A recent survey revealed that 90 per cent of people taking part said that they were more confident about reading after completing the challenge.

“Whether you are new to reading or haven’t taken out a book in a while, Dorset libraries guarantee a warm welcome and will help you on your reading journey.”

National ambassador for this year’s challenge, Martina Cole, says: “The wonderful thing about the Six Book Challenge is that people who don’t normally read, or who think that reading isn’t their bag, are encouraged to pick up a book. When you read a book you have to picture it all in your own mind. No one tells you what you’re seeing or what you should be feeling. That’s the secret of reading – it’s such a personal thing.”

“Reading can open so many doors in life,” says Genevieve Clarke, who leads The Reading Agency’s Six Book Challenge and adult literacy work. “We’re really pleased to have Martina Cole on board plus fabulous support from partners such as Dorset as we take the scheme to even more people who will benefit from it.”