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.

WBN – I’m a giver

Did you know Monday, April 23rd is World Book Night. On that evening I will be part of an international effort to give away 1,000,000 books. Successfully launched in the UK last year, readers in the United State will spread the joy for the first time this year. I am extremely proud to be part of the effort to celebrate reading by GIVING AWAY FREE books.

Volunteers were offered a list of 30 titles from which to choose. We requested first and second choices, hopefully of titles we had read so we could share our love of a certain title. WBN worked with publishers to produce 1,000,000 specially designed paperbacks which we will give away in every state.

I picked up the box of books my mom is giving out yesterday and will get mine at the library tomorrow night. The paperbacks are terrific looking. On Monday evening, I’ll be standing at the train station convincing commuters that THE KITE RUNNER is one those modern books everyone should read. http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/wbn2012-the-books/the-kite-runner

And, yes, it’s free.

Cover of "The Kite Runner"

Cover of The Kite Runner

Thanks to upallnightreading for the lovely post on this same topic and for the list of all of this year’s WBN books. http://upallnightreading.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/world-book-night-update/I have read 13 of the 25 books and plan to read a lot more of them. How about you? Which are your favorite.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Wintergirls by Laurie Anderson

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings* by Maya Angelou

Friday Night Lights by H. G. Bissinger

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Little Bee* by Chris Cleve

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Blood Work by Michael Connolly

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Zeitoun* by Dave Eggars

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton

The Kite Runner* by Khaled Hosseini

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

The Stand by Stephen King

The Poisonwood Bible* by Barbara Kingsolver

The History of Love* by Nicole Krauss

The Namesake* by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Bel Canto* by Ann Patchett

My Sister’s Keeper*by Jodi Picoult

Housekeeping* by Marilynne Robinson

Lovely Bones* by Alice Sebold

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks* by Rebecca Skloot

Just Kids by Patti Smith

The Glass Castle* by Jeannette Walls

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

See the list of books and cover art at the WBN website here.

* indicates books I’ve read

I would love to hear from any other book givers out there. Where will you be? How do you plan to give away books?

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