In April I was lucky enough to be selected as a bookgiver for World Book Night USA. Every year they compile a great list of books and work with stores, libraries, and volunteers around the country to deliver free copies of each book on the list to people who don’t normally choose to read or who don’t have access to books.
I was really excited to have been chosen. I got a copy of Favorite American Poems a few weeks before the event so I could read it before giving it out. I don’t normally go for poetry, but I actually enjoyed this compilation. It was my second choice of the books on the WBN list (the first being Bossypants by Tina Fey) but it seemed like something that a wider variety of people would be interested in.
The experience of actually handing out books to strangers was interesting. I didn’t think I’d have to convince anyone to take free books but everyone was hesitant. Some thought I was trying to sell or promote something or that the books were stolen.
We dealt with a lot of rejection, but in the end we were able to get all twenty copies of Favorite American Poems into the hands of strangers.
I’ll never forget one man I offered a book to on his way into a grocery store. He looked at the cover of the book and simply said “No. Who has time for that nonsense?” and continued into the store. A minute later he came back out and said “Aw hell gimme one of those”
On our way home we drove passed him sitting on a bench, reading his new book.
World Book Night only happens once a year (unfortunately), but you can still check out their book lists. Keep an eye on their website next April for more information on how to apply as a Bookgiver.