Monday, 23 April 2012

World Book Night

It was back in December, I think, that I saw that World Book Night was inviting people to sign up as 'givers', to distribute free books on World Book Night - 23rd April - chosen as it is UNESCO's 'International Day of the Book', Shakespeare's birthday, and death-day, and the day Cervantes died (although I learned today that Cervantes and Shakespeare in fact died on the same date, in the same year, but on different days, as Spain had adopted the Gregorian Calendar and England hadn't)

Anyway, I liked the idea of joining in, to share my love of books and reading, and to get the chance to give away books to people who might not otherwise be reading, so I sent in my application, and forwarded the links to friends I thought might be interested in doing the same, and then I waited. And in February, I got an e-mail to say my application had been accepted, and I would get to play.

I'd had a hard time picking which of the books to ask for, but decided upon 'Good Omens', partly because it's a great book, one which I go back and re-read on a regular basis, and partly because I felt it was more approachable than some of the other books on the list, and that a book which makes people laugh might encourage them to read more in the future.

This is, after all, supposed to be something you do for pleasure! (Don't get me wrong, I love Pride and Prejudice, for instance, which is another of the books on this year's list, but for people who have been put off reading at school, I suspect Austen may just feel like more of the same...)

Last week I got an e-mail to say I could pick my books up, and so on Friday night I went to the Library to collect them - 24 beautiful new books!

Opening up the box and unwrapping the books, I felt like a child on Christmas morning. And, since I had to take the books out of the box anyway, in order to write their unique ID numbers in the front, it seemed only right to play with them a little, and make an interesting heap out of them...

Then, today, it was time to start giving the books out. When I applied, I explained that I would aim to give some of the books out via work - in particular to clients involved with Social Services. I hoped to give some to neighbours, too, as it's long been clear to me that books and reading are not a big part of the lives of most of my neighbours.                                                                           
It turned out that I had to be in court today, so I packed half the books into a bag and took them with me. The court was less busy than I'd expected, but I was able to give a copy to one of the security officers at the door, one to a server at the coffee shop outside, and one to lady waiting for hearing.

Later on, after getting home, I was able to give one to a neighbour (she told me she wasn't really much of a reader, I explained that meant she was exactly who the book was supposed to be for, and she smiled, and accepted it) and then walked down to my local chip-shop and gave several more to people waiting for their food. My favourite was the young man in a hoodie, slouched in the corner of the shop. He watched as I gave a book to the woman ahead of him in the queue, and then when I offered him one, he replied "really? No-one ever gave me a book before!" he seemed so surprised, not only to be given a book, but also, I think, that he was offered one, just the same as the other people waiting. I do hope he reads it. I do hope he enjoys it.

I still have quite a few copies, and I shall be trying to give away more tomorrow, when I shall be at my local Social Services offices. And then to the supported house for teenage mums, and the half-way house for those overcoming addiction. I'm sorry I couldn't make it to both of those this evening, but I believe that giving the books away 'on or near' World Book Night counts, and this way I should have time to explain a little why there is a strange woman showing up on the doorstep and pressing books on the residents!

Happy World Book Night, everyone!

1 comment:

spacedlaw said...

Fancy never been given a book! The dread...
You are doing good. Every day should be a book day.