Monday, April 23, 2012

World Book Night - what was I thinking?

It sounded like a good idea.  Give away 20 copies of a book you enjoy to people who may not be readers to share the love of books and reading.  That sounds nice, easy, all hold-hands and sing Kumba-ya, right? (Now that I think about it, when was the last time, I sang "Kumba-ya"?  Where and why did I use to sing it?  Was it something we sang in school, or was it a children's choir song?  Either way, that was a long time ago.  I don't even know if I've ever heard my kids sing it, if they even know it.  Hmm, maybe I'll ask them tomorrow, but for now - back to World book Night.)
My box of books, ready to be shared with the world
Okay, so it was supposed to be easy.  (This is what I said, not the WBN people.)  I was going to get my pile of books, take them to a women's shelter and hand them out and be done.  The book I chose was Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" - you can catch up with my blogpost from Feb. 16.  But, I couldn't make it to the shelter because, as usual, I had a jam-packed kid schedule.  Now what?  I thought I'd try a Metro station - it was along my route for the day, maybe people getting on the subway or on the bus would like something to read.

*Personal note here - this was not even an easy decision because I do not like talking to strangers.  Believe me when I say I was in heart-thumping panic and a many sided argument with myself as I tried to figure out what to do with this box of books that were now my responsibility.  I was very tempted to set them on top of the newspaper box and forget it, but that would be against the "rules" and I knew I'd feel bad for leaving Maya Angelou's beautiful books out there in the damp air.*

Let me tell you how hard it is to give away something for FREE.  And a book, no less.  Folks look at you like you're some kinda political, religious, philanthropic, scam-running crazed person.  A book?  For free?  Must be up to something.  Finally, after about 10 offers, a woman finally took the book with a tentative and skeptical "thanks".
My official lapel pin (did it make me seem less trustworthy?  Not sure)
The reactions in giving away the rest of the pile of books ranged from skepticism to surprise to thankfulness and whatever other emotions are in between.  There were a lot who said "no, thanks", just shook their head, or tried to avoid eye contact with me.  But I did find some people who accepted my gift.  One woman actually turned back and asked if she could have another one.  A guy waiting in his car asked if he could have one and wanted to know more about the project.  Someone asked me if I wrote the book - wow, don't I wish!  One man took it, looked appreciative, but admitted that he might not get around to reading it; I told him that was okay, maybe he would.  One guy asked what it was about, nodded when I told him, said thanks and tucked it in his messenger bag.  One young woman looked at and before walking off asked me, just to be sure, "can I keep it?"  She smiled as she held on to it and headed along her way.

The Bible - or Shakespeare - said it is better to give than receive.  I know, sometimes we don't believe that or it doesn't exactly feel that way.  But when the folks accepted the book from me, I realized that it was true.  I don't know what it did for those people, receiving this little surprise on a rainy, cold day, this small token of words, a story.  But I know when they accepted it from me, the pleasure was mine.
My last book.
Happy reading, folks!

For more information, check out their webpage World Book Night or look for them on FaceBook.


Anonymous said...

I applied to give books away and hope I'm picked. I would love to get a free book from someone and giving them is also a great thought.

Autumn Blues Reviews said...

Great post! I feel you. I applied to giveaway (1st tiem) and did struggle with it once I read the requirements. I myself am doing it to get out of the house for once. Lol. I work from home and do blog giveaways. I also can be uncomfortable with strangers. You made that really tough on yourself but I applaud you for pulling through. I decided to do the giveaway at my 11 year old sons bowling league game. Don't know if that is allowed but will find out. Did you receive your 1st choice?

Mommyx4 said...

hey Autumn! I think the rules are basically to give them away to people who may not already be readers, i.e. if a mom on the bowling league is sitting there reading a book - she wouldn't be your first choice. You could also give them out to other people at the bowling alley. And yes, Why the Caged Bird Sings was my first choice. Have fun!