Book lovers around the world are planning to give away millions of books on April 23 – and they are looking for Berkeley readers to help them.
The event is called World Book Night and its inaugural event in Great Britain in March of 2011 was phenomenally successful. Tens of thousands of people handed out a million free books to those who might not necessarily have ready access to them. The idea was for people to share their love of reading and ignite a similar passion in others.
Now World Book Night has expanded around the world to Ireland, Scotland, Germany, and the United States. The goal is for one million books to be distributed in each country.
“It will be like Halloween on an intellectual level,” Anna Quindlen, an author, essayist and the honorary chairwoman of World Book Night in the USA, said in a press release announcing the event.
Independent booksellers in the Bay Area have embraced the idea.
“It’s such a cool idea because it expands the currency of the printed book,” said Ann Leyhe, a co-owner of Mrs. Dalloway’s, a bookstore on College Avenue, which is participating in the event. “It expands the number of printed books going from reader to reader.”
To make the event successful, organizers are looking for 50,000 people who can give away 20 books each. The volunteers will not have to pay for the books; publishers are donating them and authors are giving up their royalties for the occasion.
But people who want to be involved must sign up by February 1.
To be accepted, participants must describe the kind of place they will give away books. Organizers are looking for people who will go into hospitals, nursing homes, shelters, food pantries, pubs, malls and other places where new books are at a premium. Some of the questions on the application ask: Which book would you give away and why? To whom? And where?
There is a choice of 30 titles to give away, including popular books like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Volunteers specify which book they want to give away, sign up on line, and pick them up at a participating bookstore. Mrs. Dalloway’s, Diesel Books, Books, Inc., Book Passage and other independents will be involved.
Personal recommendations by friends are often what motivates people to pick up a book, and World Book Night does this on a grander scale, said Leyhe. It’s called “word of mouth,” in the book business.
“You choose the book. So you should have a personal relationship with the title. You just don’t hand something to someone else,” said Leyhe.
Here is a list of books available to give away. They have been donated by publishers, printers, and the authors:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Blood Work by Michael Connelly
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz; a Spanish-language edition, La breve y maravillosa vida de Óscar Wao, will also be made available.
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
The Stand by Stephen King
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Just Kids by Patti Smith
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak