World Book Night: A Million Reasons to Read a Book

Registration for World Book Night – an ambitious literary event that seeks to put a million books in the hands of a million people, for free – is fast approaching. You have until Monday, February 6th, at midnight (EST) to submit your name as a possible book giver. Those selected will receive 20 free paperbacks to distribute throughout their community on April 23rd, this year’s chosen night of book giving.

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World Book Night first took place in the United Kingdom on March 5th, 2011, with a particularly massive (and enviable) literary celebration occurring in London’s Trafalgar Square  – who wouldn’t love to hear Nick Cave read from Lolita, or receive a free book from Brian Eno and Margaret Atwood? It was a tremendous success: thousands of book lovers attended the festivities in London and, as promised, over a million books were given away throughout England and Ireland. This year, Germany and the United States will join in on the celebration.

World Book Night, looking less like a book festival and more like a Flaming Lips performance - Trafalgar Square, March 2011

How do you sign up? Simple. Head over WBN’s registration page and plug in your name, address, and contact info. You’ll be asked to pick three of your favorite books from a stellar list of thirty titles for distribution. This, to me, proves that there are real book lovers running the show backstage. WBN isn’t looking to indiscriminately disperse a box full of flimsy and unread paperbacks. They want their volunteers to love what they’re giving out, to tell each person, “you have got to read this,” as they hand them a particular book. Bibliophiles worldwide know the magic of this moment; there’s nothing better than sharing a novel that knocked you off your feet.

Despite the sheer scope of their operation, WBN is surprisingly modest in explaining why they do what they do. To “spread the love of reading and books” they say, simply. They’re also out to promote the merit of bookstores and libraries, which, ahem, I wholeheartedly endorse. Still, I’d say what makes World Book Night such a spectacular program, such a valuable program, is that it creates new readers. Over a million people received free books last year. This year, that number will triple. So here’s to falling in love with literature – both for the first time and all over again.

Take a look at just a few of the excellent titles to be given away this year:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
Just Kids by Patti Smith
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Become a book giver today!

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