My World Book Night Experience

Yesterday was World Book Night.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s post I spent part of the day on the 16th Street pedestrian mall in Downtown Denver giving away copies of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  I chose this book to give away because it spoke to me.  Set in WWII Europe, it is about the power of books to change a life.

People all over the country were giving away books yesterday.  Here’s a list of the 30 books that people were giving away…

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  • Friday Night Lights, H G Bissinger
  • Kindred, Octavia E Butler
  • Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
  • Little Bee, Chris Cleave
  • The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
  • Blood Work, Michael Connelly
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
  • Le Breve y Maravillosa vida de Oscar Was, Junot Diaz, (in Spanish)
  • Because of Winn-Dixie, Kate DiCamillo
  • Zeitoun, Dave Eggers
  • Peace Like a River, Leif Enger
  • A Reliable Wife, Robert Goolrick
  • Q is for Quarry, Sue Grafton
  • The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
  • The Stand, Stephen King
  • The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
  • The History of Love, Nicole Krauss
  • The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
  • The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien
  • Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
  • My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult
  • Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson
  • The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  • Just Kids, Patti Smith
  • The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls
  • The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

All of these authors gave up their royalties for the special edition World Book Night books that were printed for this giveaway.

I had an interesting time.  About one person in every seven I approached agreed to take a copy of The Book Thief.  The entire experience reminded me of George Orwell’s description of his time distributing flyers in his very interesting, but little known book,  Down and Out in Paris and London.

Many people began shaking their heads “no” before I even explained who I was and what I was doing.  One guy with a smile on his face told me he couldn’t read.  Another guy had some serious anger management issues.  He screamed at me to get out of his face, adding that “the 16th Street Mall is a no hassle zone” (whatever that is), and that I was hassling him.  I smiled and said, “I’m not hassling you, I’m offering you a free book.”  He continued walking and yelled something obscene over his shoulder.  He was in his 50s and dressed in a business suit.  I had a 16th Street mall Business Improvement Inspector approach me and ask if I had a permit to be doing what I was doing.  I told him yes – in the hopes that the World Book Night People had secured such permits.

On the other hand, I had several nice conversations with people.  We discussed The Book Thief, books and reading in general, and World Book Night.  A couple people asked if they could be book givers next year.  I told them to the World Book Night Website and get on the mailing list.  A reporter and phtographer from the Denver Post showed up.  She interviewed me and he snapped several photos.

I was happy to be a book giver on World Book Night.  I can think of no better gift than a book.  I was sorry that I didn’t have more books to give away.

Did you encounter any World Book Night book givers on Monday April 23?  If so, did you take a book?  Which book did you receive?  Please share your experience in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily thoughts on life and career success – and in this case, World Book Night.  I value you and I appreciate you.


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