World Book Night US was an annual event held on April 23rd whose mission it was to give out books to light and non-readers. Their tag line is “Spreading the love of reading, person to person.” Originating in the United Kingdom in 2011, the campaign is now in its third year in the United States and continues to grow. Volunteer book lovers are given 20 copies of a book they’ve selected from a list of picks and go into their communities all over the U.S. to seek out people who do not regularly read to become book recipients. In addition to book givers, others who participated to make this huge effort possible include authors, publishers, bookstores, libraries, teachers, United Parcel Service and, of course, the amazing WBN staff.
I was thrilled to be chosen as a book giver for the second year in a row. The book I selected was The Weird Sisters a debut novel by Eleanor Brown. My pickup location was Greenlight Bookstore, a small independent bookstore in Brooklyn. On April 14th they hosted a WBN Givers Reception and a program portion that was open to the public. Several other book givers and I talked about our respective books and read excerpts from them.
The New York Public Library’s Main Branch on 5th Avenue also hosted a launch event on April 22nd, moderated by WBN Executive Director Carl Lennertz. The night featured 7 bestselling adult and YA authors such as Malcolm Gladwell, Garrison Keillor, Esmeralda Santiago, Walter Dean Myers, Tobias Wolfe, Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon. They all spoke about how libraries have impacted their lives. I was thrilled to get Malcolm Gladwell’s autograph on my beloved copy of “Outliers”. A few of the book givers also spoke briefly about their chosen books and how they planned to give them away the next day. As April 23rd is Shakespeare’s birthday, attendees received a free copy of Shakespeare’s sonnets.
The location I chose to give out my books was the YWCA of Brooklyn. I felt this was a great venue to give out a book about sisters and to reach people that don’t regularly read.
I started the evening by sharing my experiences with books and reading and the impact it’s had on my life. We then went around the room and each person, including a few of the YWCA staff, introduced themselves and shared their experiences. The intimate setting of the lounge was ideal for meeting the recipients one-on-one and hearing about their histories.
I then told them a little bit about “The Weird Sisters” and read an excerpt from the book. The book recipients were grateful for the free books and thanked me for them. It felt great to share my love of reading and help introduce others to its many benefits.