April 23, 2014 is WORLD BOOK NIGHT!
This year is my third year as a Book Giver for World Book Night. The purpose of World Book Night is to encourage non-readers, or “light” readers, to read more. To help foster a love of reading, each Book Givers is given a big pile of books to give away (yes, as in FREE!) to those who have not yet developed a love of reading.
The first year, I gave away “The Things They Carried,” by Tim O’Brien. Last year, I gave away “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. This year, I am giving away “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” by Ransom Riggs. You can read more about my previous experience with World Book Night here and here.
This year, I will continue my tradition of giving away some of the books on my blog (more on that later), and I will also give some to the shelter. I will also give some away to unsuspecting passers-by. I have learned that when you try to give something away, people become suspicious. Perhaps we don’t give enough—too often there are string attached or hidden motives. But World Book Night isn’t like that. It is all about taking a good book and sharing it in the hopes that it will mean as much to someone else as it did to me.
Neil Gaiman (who is a wonderful writer with wonderful hair and a wonderful way of saying the things that I am thinking–but didn’t think to say aloud myself) once said:
Stories you read when you’re the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you’ll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely ever visit.
Like many things that Neil says, this is true.
For my eldest, Coraline never left her. Neither did the Hunger Games trilogy, or the Divergent books. Or just about anything written by John Green.
My middle child was first marked by several Roald Dahl books. They left their print on her heart that will never fade. Then she found a book called Small as an Elephant…then the Divergent books captured her imagination, too.
My youngest child found a kindred spirit in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, then there was a lull…a long lull…in which I feared that books had grown silent for him. But eventually he, too, found the Divergent trilogy–and the books have been chattering to him ever since. And I am relieved, because the idea of books being silent makes me sad.
And this is what I hope to pass on to others…this thirst for words, this hunger for stories, this obsession with a well-told tale. So, each year, when I open my box of World Book Night books—their covers sleek and their spines uncreased—the books are positively brimming with possibility. Maybe the person who receives this gift will find precisely the words they need to hear. Maybe they, in turn, will pass the book on to someone else. Perhaps the book will trade hands over and over, until the pages are dog-earred and the spine is cracked. Because that, my friends, is the sign of a well-loved book…of a literary life well-lived.
In the spirit of World Book Night, I want to continue giving away the gift of words. I want to pass on stories without strings. Therefore, I will be offering all of my short stories on Amazon for FREE for 24 hours.
Perhaps, just perhaps, someone will find in my stories exactly the words they need to hear.