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New World Library Unshelved

New World Library Unshelved

Positive news and inspiring views from the New World Library community

Friday, May 10, 2013
Participating in World Book Night 2013 by New World Library Publicity Director Monique Muhlenkamp

In January of 2013 the call went out: World Book Night (WBN) was going to take place on April 23, and volunteers were needed to be Book Givers and spread the love of reading, person to person. After hearing about a colleague’s great experience last year, I submitted my application. What’s not to love about sharing books? It’s something I do professionally and personally every day.

WBN works with publishers to offer free books, and the Book Givers seek out non-readers or light readers, especially people who may not have access to printed books for reasons of means or geography. Book Givers receive twenty free paperback copies of one World Book Night title, not too many to carry but enough to share with a good number of potential new readers.

Once I got the green light from WBN to be a Book Giver, I had to pick the title I’d share. That was easy. Willa Cather is one of my favorite authors and My Ántonia (Ann-tow-nee-uh) was on the list. First published in 1918, it is the final book of her “prairie trilogy” of novels, the companion volumes being O Pioneers! and The Song of the Lark.

I received regular email updates from the well-organized WBN staff. I chose to have the shipment delivered to Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma, where I picked them up along with additional event information and a sticker that identified me as a Book Giver. Smooth sailing thus far….

On April 23 I donned my favorite hat and set out to give away books. My first stop was a nursing home in my community. I wasn’t sure how this would work out, but I had initial success with a lovely woman and her adult daughter. They both loved to read and graciously accepted the books. I struck out with another woman and her adult son. She only liked mysteries and he simply wasn’t interested. It happens. Moving on…I slipped on over to Walnut Park and found four teenagers (a girl and three boys) attached to their phones. Perfect! I introduced myself and was delightfully surprised that they put down their phones and listened to my short spiel. Here were their responses:

Girl: This looks great. I have a silent reading period at school. I’ll bring this in for class.
Boy #1: Hey — almost like my name, only I’m AntoniO.
Boy #2: Never heard of Willa Cather…
Boy #3: mumble, mumble, mumble, thanks, lady…mumble mumble.

I also ran into two door-to-door solicitors at the park. I had just turned them down at my house. They still tried to sell me magazine subscriptions (no thank you) but they left with two books (thank you!).

My favorite response came from a woman on her evening walk. She told me she had just been thinking about reading more that very morning. What a coincidence! She said that yes, she was serious, many of her friends were in book clubs, and she wanted to join them and simply read more books. This made my heart sing.  

The folks I talked to that evening were kind, and many shared that they would like to read more. I hope our meeting and a starter book gave them the spark to do so. Will I do this next year? You bet. Sign me up.

How about you? I hope so. It’s a great way to share the love of reading in your community. Want more info on WBN 2014? Go here, and if you sign up, let me know!


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