Yesterday was World Book Night, an event in which volunteers from around the country went out into the community and gave away free copies of some really awesome books. You can see the full list here. A few of us thought we’d share our experiences as Givers with you.
The Book: Glaciers
The Location: Butte-Silver Bow Library
One of my favorite books of 2012 was Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith, so imagine my delight when I saw it had made the World Book Night list. As soon as I was confirmed to be a Giver of that title, I knew exactly where I wanted to hand it out: my local library. The novel’s main character, 28-year-old Isabel, works in the Portland, Oregon library repairing damaged books, so I thought it would be apropos if I distributed the book to readers in Butte, Montana at the Butte-Silver Bow Library. The library’s programming director and I teamed up for a publicity blitz on Facebook and local media. Rather than just stand there handing out the book, I thought I’d add an extra layer to the WBN event by staging a marathon reading of Glaciers. And so, I publicly vowed I would start reading the book from Chapter 1 at 4 pm and would continue non-stop until all 20 copies had been picked up. What was the worst that could happen? I’d spend an evening reading Smith’s luxurious, lyrical prose, revisiting one of my favorite novels of the past year. I got to the library a little late (poor time manager that I am) and found half a dozen people already waiting for me. After a brief introduction of World Book Night–its history and purpose–I plunged into Glaciers. All went well. In fact, all went better than well. As I read, other patrons drifted over, snared by the sound of my voice reading Smith’s beautiful words. I was prepared to read all the way to the end of the book, if need be. I didn’t make it past page 34 before the librarian held up the empty WBN box and announced, “That’s it. They’re all gone.” My work here was done. Another triumphant World Book Night was, er, on the books. I went home happy. But probably not as happy as those new readers carrying Glaciers with them, eager to finish the rest of the story for themselves.
The Book: The Handmaid’s Tale
The Location: North Brooklyn, to folks in service industries
Last year was fun, but this year was amazing. Maybe it was because this year, instead of choosing a specific location, I chose a type of person — I decided that I would give my copies of The Handmaid’s Tale mostly to people in my community who worked behind a counter all day long, folks whose job was to wait around for other people to need them. (I thought Offred would approve.) And oh man, were they happy to get handed a free book! Maybe it was because I’ve perfected my spiel — saying “It’s World Book Night!” first, and then offering them a book, works way better than “Would you like a free book?”, which just makes people thing you’re trying to convert them to something or other. At least, that’s how it worked here in Brooklyn.
The Book: The Handmaid’s Tale
The Location: Hermann Park, Houston
Last year, I had so much fun giving out books in Houston’s Hermann Park that I decided I would return there this year with my copies of The Handmaid’s Tale. The park is a popular spot for young families, college students, and teenagers. It’s also right next to the many hospitals in the Medical Center, so patients and their families will often come to spend some much needed quality time together. There are also those who call the park home. I started there. I ended with a couple of high school kids. In the interim, I gave to young mothers, couples, and a large group of teenagers who were in the park to be part of a friend’s quinceanera photos. Beyond getting people interested in reading one of my favorite authors, I am super happy with myself for actually approaching people and not just waiting for them to approach me. Achievement unlocked!
Were you a Giver on World Book Night? We’d love to hear about your experience. Let us know what it was like.
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