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World Book Night is April 23

The second annual U.S./World Book Night is taking place on, appropriately enough, William Shakespeare’s birthday. On World Book Night, volunteers across the country give out free copies of a book they’ve selected from a list to complete strangers. It’s all part of an effort to promote literacy and book lust.

I participated in WBN last year, and gave away free copies of A Reliable Wife (set in northern Wisconsin) by Robert Goolrick to strangers imbibing at Thirsty Pagan Brewing and at the Anchor Bar. It was a lot of fun, and I urge anyone who loves books and loves to talk about books to apply.

The books are supplied by the participating publishers and if you are selected as a book giver, the books will be shipped to a local pick-up point for you to pick up that day. Each giver gets 20 books. Last year’s local pick-up point was Fitger’s Bookstore.

The list of books for this year’s World Book Night is on, as is the application form. The deadline to apply to be a book giver is Jan. 23. UPDATE: The deadline to apply to be a book giver is January 25, 2013.

I’m giving away copies of Population:485 by Michael Perry this year, and intend to, once again, hit bars in Supetown to give away Perry’s memoir about living and working in a small Wisconsin town.

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15 Comment(s)

  1. Claire, this is really interesting. Books are my favorite thing. I looked at the website and have a couple of questions. First, do you know what criteria are used to choose the books? Second, I see this focuses on giving books to people with limited options re access to free or inexpensive books. Given our great library system here, how does Duluth/Superior fit this description?

    Thanks for posting this.

    emmadogs | Jan 5, 2013 | New Comment
  2. Emmadogs, I know there is a committee at WBN HQ that selects the books. They are publishers, editors, and other muckety mucks in the book world who go through the titles nominated by publishers and others — including yours truly, who slyly nominated books by local authors Danielle Sosin and Margi Preus. They try to have a variety of books for a diverse readership, so you have some recent bestsellers, as well as the classics.

    As for where books are given out, and how the Twin Ports region fits into the goal of giving books to underserved populations… yes, we have libraries, we have bookstores here, but some people, believe it or not, don’t visit libraries or bookstores for whatever reason — perhaps, intimidation? Lack of access, meaning being able to get there? People who may not have a permanent address? People who just haven’t been bitten by the book bug? There’s lots of reasons.

    I think one of the big points of this venture is that when a stranger walks up to someone and hands them a free book, and then talks up that book, this enthusiasm will in turn inspire the recipient to want to read the book, and then read some more books, and so on. And, best part of all, the book belongs to that person.

    Emmadogs, I urge you to apply. I went out of my comfort zone last year, handing out books in bars, and I am really glad I did. I learned a lot about the power of books to bring strangers together. It was a great experience.

    I hope this answers your questions.

    Claire | Jan 5, 2013 | New Comment
  3. Signed up. Promised to offer books to young nerds playing Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer. Thanks, Claire! | Jan 5, 2013 | New Comment
  4. I’m happy to have found out about this. I’ve shared it with a few friends. I applied to give out Looking for Alaska, which I recently read. Thanks for posting about this!

    plasticcup | Jan 6, 2013 | New Comment
  5. Whirled Book Night … there’s an event I can get into! | Jan 7, 2013 | New Comment
  6. Dude, I don’t care what you call it, as long as you either give away 20 copies of a book you love, or else receive a book from a book giver without making them feel like a crazy person!

    Cute, though, Whirled Book Night…

    Claire | Jan 7, 2013 | New Comment
  7. As an avid reader this sounds really cool. Their website is currently having technical issues though so I could not get any more info. And without any more info, I’m taking a guess the books they offer to hand out are not anything I’ve read (VERY picky and have a short attention span so if it doesn’t pull me in right away I have a hard time finishing it). But if someone walked up to me in a bar and handed me a book and said “here, try this and see what you think” I would think it was cool as heck!

    Dawn Marie | Jan 8, 2013 | New Comment
  8. The titles selected for World Book Night 2013 are:

    The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (Anchor Books/Random House)
    City of Thieves, David Benioff (Plume/Penguin Book Group)
    Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury (Simon & Schuster Paperbacks)
    My Antonia, Willa Cather (public domain; edition tbd)
    Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier (Plume/Penguin Book Group)
    The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (Vintage/Random House) -- also in Spanish
    The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho (HarperOne/HarperCollins) -- also in Spanish
    The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Ballantine Books/Random House)
    The Worst Hard Time, Timothy Egan (Mariner Books/HoughtonMifflinHarcourt)
    Bossypants, Tina Fey (Regan Arthur/Back Bay Books)
    Still Alice, Lisa Genova (Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster)
    Looking for Alaska, John Green (Speak/Penguin Book Group)
    Playing for Pizza, John Grisham (Dell/Random House)
    Mudbound, Hillary Jordan (Algonquin Books/Workman Publishing)
    The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster (Yearling/Random House)
    Moneyball, Michael Lewis (W.W. Norton)
    The Tender Bar, J.R. Moehringer (Hyperion)
    Devil in a Blue Dress, Walter Mosley (Washington Square Press/Simon & Schuster)
    Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, James Patterson (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
    Population: 485, Michael Perry (HarperPerennial/HarperCollins)
    Good Omens, Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman (HarperTorch/HarperCollins)
    The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan (Disney)
    Montana Sky, Nora Roberts (Jove/Penguin Book Group)
    Look Again, Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin’s)
    Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris (Back Bay Books/Little, Brown)
    The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith (Anchor Books/Random House)
    Glaciers, Alexis M. Smith (Tin House Books)
    A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain (public domain; edition tbd)
    Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury)
    Favorite American Poems; Large Print edition, various authors (Dover)

    Claire | Jan 8, 2013 | New Comment
  9. What a great list! I wonder how many lives Handmaid’s Tale and Fahrenheit 451 changed (mine, for sure). It’s funny — I remember that a popular game in college was, “What book would you memorize if you were one of the outcast professors in Fah. 451?” And I always said “Handmaid’s Tale,” as well as “The Sun Also Rises,” which I recall Paul Lundgren saying he wanted to read, in another unrelated post here. I would add “Cloud Atlas” to that list now.

    Anyway, I’ve read several books on this list and all were great. Nice touch with the Sedaris choice.

    emmadogs | Jan 8, 2013 | New Comment
  10. I’ll be hanging out at Curly’s Bar waiting for someone to bring me my Hemmingway.

    Paul Lundgren | Jan 8, 2013 | New Comment
  11. Even though the WBN/USA people ignored my nominations of Danielle Sosin’s Long Shining Waters and Margi Preus’ Heart of a Samurai, it indeed is an incredible list of books above. There is something for everyone — except for Paul Lundgren. No Hemingway. Maybe they will include The Paris Wife next time though…

    I like selecting books that are set in this region… I feel like people are more likely to take a book from a stranger if it relates to their lives somehow, and setting is a pretty strong draw.

    Claire | Jan 8, 2013 | New Comment
  12. I should add that the books of Judith Krantz and Bret Easton Ellis, sordid tales involving very rich, beautiful people engaging in shenanigans I shall not detail here, also impacted my life. So take my literary recommendations with a grain of salt.

    emmadogs | Jan 8, 2013 | New Comment
  13. I liked Barbara Taylor Bradford myself, so no worries, Emmadogs.

    Claire | Jan 8, 2013 | New Comment
  14. emmadogs | Jan 9, 2013 | New Comment
  15. I hear the website is fixed, so you all can sign up now!

    Claire | Jan 9, 2013 | New Comment

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