Tuesday, April 24, 2012
World Book Night 2012
Yesterday I volunteered as a book giver for World Book Night! I first heard about it in a newsletter from our local independent bookstore. WBN started overseas last year and expanded to America this year. The organizers pre-selected 30 books for people to give away to adults in their communities on the night of April 23. To be a volunteer, I had to apply online, choose a book, and explain what it meant to me and why I wanted to give it away. My choice was A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving. I first read this novel about five years ago and it became an instant favorite. It follows two best friends from boyhood into adulthood, but although it's a small-focus story, it encompasses so many important themes. Owen is an unforgettable, unique, and heroic character who never apologizes for who he is, and in an age of diversity and bullying awareness, I think he's more relevant now than ever. So this book was my immediate first choice, even though it's much tougher to sell strangers on than The Hunger Games.
I couldn't think of a perfect place to give away my 20 copies - you're supposed to go to a place where readers don't naturally congregate - so I just started where I was. I handed out five at the Comcast office when I was there on an errand. I got a lot of weird looks, but one lady in line was excited, and we had a great conversation about reading, writing, and the publishing industry. In the evening, I went to the nearest shopping center and walked around with my box. I gave my World Book Night speech and handed out books to pizza workers, gamers, manicurists, and pet groomers. Again, some people clearly thought I was crazy, but almost all of them happily accepted books! When the box was empty, I felt exhilarated about sending 20 books out into the world. I hope people read them or at least pass them on. I'd definitely sign up to do this again next year.
Before going to the shopping center, I also put a small sticker on the WBN bookmarks with my blog link. I never would have had that idea on my own, but someone on Twitter mentioned it - and after my conversation with the nice lady, I wanted to provide some small connection if I met more nice people. (Or cute guys - I'm all about baiting destiny.) That's a part of what this kind of thing is about. So if you came here from a link on a bookmark, welcome!