World Book Night with a little help from my son

So I participated in the first-time-in-America World Book Night last night. As with many things in my life, it didn’t go according to plan.

Way back when (6 months ago), I stumbled across a Facebook post about World Book Night in the UK. When I followed the link, I saw it was coming to the US in 2012. I love books. I love promoting books. I wanted to be a part of something bigger. I signed up for the newsletter.

When it came time to actually register and request books, I faltered. Once again, the idea of this was more appealing than actually committing to the follow-through.

Choosing titles to give away was no problem, but writing about a place I’d go and why I wanted to do this was a little harder. I’m a curl up on the couch and share my book love with like-minded people kind of girl. The thought of seeking out a place where I could find light or reluctant readers scared me. But I did it.

First paperback edition book cover

First paperback edition book cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then I was chosen and I had to move beyond my comfort zone. I had a plan. I would go to the train station and just smile and offer my book, The Kite Runner, to strangers. Gulp.

As the date approached, I turned again and again to the virtual world for courage. I followed @wbnamerica on Twitter and “met” thousands of other people giving away books. I promoted World Book Night on Facebook and received loads of encouragement from friends and family. Ultimately, I connected with real-life friends and revised my work-alone plan.

Feeling better about a group of us working together with several titles, I wore my button, passed out stickers and packed my box. Then real life interfered with my best-laid plans. My husband could not get home in time for me to meet up with my friends. Sigh.

I could have used this as a reason to not interact with strangers, but I surprised myself by adapting quickly. I brought my youngest son along for the “fun.” He was none to pleased about being taken away from his backyard soccer game to “sell” books, but he had no choice. I explained how much this worldwide event meant to me and he agreed to help.

In the end, we had a blast walking up to strangers, talking up our titles and seeing people walk away with a new book. After a slow start, and quite a few skeptical looks, one train’s worth of commuters cleared out most of our books. My son was cute and charming and more than willing to run back to the box to refresh our armloads of books. I felt like part of a much broader community as I followed the experiences of givers across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Now that it is over, I can forever claim being one of the first in America. And, so can my youngest son. I like that.

Some of my favorite #wbnamerica tweets:

Stacey Mason ‏ @StaceyLMason

“Sometimes we need books. And sometimes books need us.” Perhaps half a million free books started a new conversation last night @wbnamerica

Martha Kiley ‏ @MarthaKiley

Gave Bel Canto to a bartender, barista, counter girl, pizza guy, new moms, dog walkers and a butcher. Great night! #wbnamerica

The Book Shepherd ‏ @mybookshepherd

Yesterday was World Book Night-continue it and donate books to those who will open them and fall lin for the love of the word.#wbnamerica

Gabe Eggerling @saysgabe: I have always been told it’s a Gift to receive a book, but thanks to @wbnamerica I can say it’s also a Gift to give a book!!

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My box of WBN books

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Proud book-nerds ready to talk to commuters.

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My youngest son with an armful of The Hunger Games. Ready and willing.

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19 Comments

  1. Kathy

     /  April 24, 2012

    Fabulous! The pictures turned out great.

    Reply
  2. Glad you enjoyed it! The Kite Runner is one of my favourite books.

    Reply
  3. Glad that you enjoyed your experience! I was flying solo in my WBN event. But the people in my office building and the people who walked by got a great new book and I met some really cool people. I’m excited about doing it again!

    I have yet to upload my latest photos.

    Thanks for sharing you experience. It was interesting to read.

    Reply
    • I wish I had been able to talk personally with more people. In that regard, a train stop was not so great. But it was still rewarding.

      Reply
  4. What a compelling post, I read with trepidation and felt everything you felt from my safe place and then had a flush of joy to learn that you did indeed make it and succeeded. Giving books to non-readers or just strangers sounds like hard work, but just following through is a major achievement, well done all of you!

    Reply
    • What a nice repsonse Claire. Thank you. I do have a hard time getting out of my comfort zone, but perhaps that only intensifies the reward.

      Reply
  5. Sandra Hogg

     /  April 24, 2012

    How fun! I am glad you followed through with the experience and enjoyed it. I love the picture of your son holding The Hunger Games. If I was on that train, you know I would have taken a book! Is there a website where people can go to share how they felt about receiving a book? If so, please pass it on.

    Reply
  6. Cheri L.

     /  April 24, 2012

    What a cool thing to do! I wish I had known about it.

    Reply
  7. Bethanny

     /  April 24, 2012

    To coin a popular commercial jingle:
    I’d like to teach the world to read
    In perfect harmony
    I’d like to give the world a book
    And keep it company
    That’s the real thing.
    Congratulations, Alena, on a successful World Book Night!

    Reply
    • Why thank you Bethanny. And thanks for dropping by my blog. I like the jingle. Maybe I’ll get that recorded when I put a soundtrack behind my blog.

      Reply
  8. Sounds like you and your son had a blast passing out books on WBN — such a fun idea! I’m glad people got into the spirit of it. I mean, FREE BOOKS, PEOPLE! How do you top that?

    By the way, I just nominated your blog for a Kreativ Blogger Award!

    Reply
  9. Wow Joan, that’s quite an honor for a new blogger like me. Thank you so much. I will have to spend some time putting together my list and nominees and the words to express my gratitude to you. So much fun being part of this world.

    Reply
  10. I think in the process you also set a great example for your son by teaching him the joy of books and the value of reading! Kudos to you!

    Reply
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