Wednesday, April 25, 2012

World Book Night ~ April 23rd, 2012

Yes, I know my blog is primarily a food blog & maybe I should begin a 2nd blog for other interests, but the truth is, I would rather just share ALL of my loves with you, here. I LOVE to read. So when the opportunity came about to GIVE out FREE books randomly, I JUMPED at it.

What is World Book Night? (See more here.) World Book Night is an annual celebration designed to spread a love of reading and books. To be held in the U.S. as well as the U.K. and Ireland on April 23, 2012. It will see tens of thousands of people go out into their communities to spread the joy and love of reading by giving out free World Book Night paperbacks. See more here:

We each had one title choice out of 30 books. I chose "Because of Winn Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo. Why? I was introduced to the value of a book at an early age & want to instill that in young girls & boys. If you have a book, you will always have a friend, travel far & never be bored. Plus, the setting of "Because of Winn Dixie" is Florida, my home state. I gave out many of the books to a local girl scout troop & a few copies to parents I met on my book giveaway voyage.

Because I work at New York University Bookstores, also a World Book Night Pick Up location, I was given a few extra titles to distribute as well:

~Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
~Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
~Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto
~Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Here's my World Book Night Giver experience:

The Difficulty of Being Earnest

April 23,2012 / World Book Night
Give away 20 books for free.
Easy, huh?

I am a true book lover… I believe a book is the dearest gift one could give. It’s my bread & water, the one item I’d sacrifice for on a deserted island. Anyone know the Twilight Zone Episode with Burgess Meredith called “Time Enough at Last”? He plays Henry, a Bookworm who doesn’t have time to read… at all… an H-Bomb explodes… Henry luckily is saved inadvertently by his book obsession because at lunch he reads in the bank’s (where he works) vault. After the bomb, Henry regains consciousness to find everyone dead, everything gone. Despairingly, he stumbles upon the Library rubble with the books intact. But he literally falls and BREAKS his reading glasses rendering him unable to read.  The End. Did you gasp? If so, you are very like me.

So, in retrospect, giving away free books, to me, at least, seemed so easy. The thing is, many bookworms are also introverts… They tend to brighten up when they talk about books but are relatively shy in person.  In order to give away a book, one MUST approach a stranger… Two introverts= well…

I began my World Book Night at 2pm –ish on an NYU bus. I sat there, a little nervous & hesitant at first thinking, “These are students. They read. They are probably looking for a book that is fun rather than assigned.” Right? Well, I waited till the bus had a good amount of students… I took 3 books, fanned them out in my hands & stood up. I said, “Hi!!! I am giving away books for World Book Night. They are FREE. This is legitimate… Look! WBN is explained on the inside & printed on the back-side.” A couple of girls tentatively approached me… One got excited, “I’ve wanted to read that title!!!” I said, “Well, it has picked you then!” The other two girls each took a book… a boy then took one & another. All were smiling after & chatting, glancing in their new books. Where as, before, there was that uncomfortable, bus silence.

When I left the bus, I was ready & empowered again. I stopped in a coffee shop, grabbed an iced coffee & peered at the people sitting… all walks of life, many singular-seated people. I walked up to a woman quietly nibbling a bagel… I fanned the books again… She made the silent “Go Away” motion, nodding “no”. I said quietly, “they’re free books”. She looked, a second take, & recognized the title/cover picture. I had made a friend. Milannia is from Guyana and loves to read. She has a son too, like me, who she tries to instill the love of reading in as well and she talks long-distance & on-line with her Caribbean friends about books. She even recommended a book for me.

I continued to give away books to NJ bus commuters, my local Girl Scout Troop and local Hospital… And I loved every minute of it. But it was way more difficult than you’d think it would be to give away books. You should try it next year on World Book Night 2013. It is a wonderful thing.

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