I didn’t get to write about World Book Night last week, but I wanted to write a little about my experience regardless of my lateness. I picked up my books from Barnes & Nobles where they had been shipped a couple weeks ago. In the process, I ended up explaining to a few employees there what World Book Night actually was. They asked me why they were getting the boxes of books with ‘World Book Night’ on them and what was World Book Night anyway?
That day and throughout my experience with World Book Night people always seemed puzzled. “Giving out books? For free? why?” And I couldn’t help but look at them seriously and say “Why not?” Anyone who loves to read, also loves to share the books that have changed their life. Buying a copy for a friend (or 2 or 3 or 4..) is what World Book Night is, but on a much larger scale. Thousands of people all over the USA and UK giving out books… just to spread the love of reading.
The first time I heard of it I practically bounced around with joy. I expected everyone else to have the same reaction. Some did, some didn’t. The ones that didn’t were the ones that looked at me like I was a little nuts and said “oh that’s nice” dismissively. Those were the people I knew I’d never be best friends with. They obviously didn’t love books.
When I got my books I debated between giving them out somewhere random as many World Book Nighters did on train platforms, malls and street corners; or donating them to a specific place. I decided to give my books to a local elementary school that I heard was in need of books because they’ve had trouble filling their library. The book I picked to give out was The Book Thief.
The first time I read The Book Thief, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t read it before. How had this book not been one of the hundreds I had already devoured? How did I not know about it? I was ecstatic and crushed in the same moment. Irrational as it was, I was disappointed in myself for not finding it sooner.
To this day, it is still one my favorites that I recommend to anyone and everyone. I can only hope that my box of books make a lot of young people at that school feel the same way I did the first time I read it. Well, maybe not the feeling crushed part, but the ecstatic joy at the treasure I felt I had discovered? I do wish them that, with every fiber of my book-loving being.