On World Book Night, Saturday, March 5, twenty-eight thousand activists will give away 40,000 books in the UK and Ireland. A screening committee chose the givers on the basis of letters explaining why they wanted to give away a particular book. Each patron will distribute 48 copies of his or her selected book to members of the public on Saturday.
It's sweet, a little corny, and remarkably random, but the list of 25 eclectic giveaway books chosen by a committee demonstrates an appreciation of all genres. The "givers" must have shown the enthusiasm of the Oprah Book Club participants who write emails to explain why they love a book and want to appear on a Book Club segment of her show. Will people actually be giving away books at night? There will be readings, etc.
I had my own Book Day in 2000, sort of. Flush from a recent job, I bought all the Signet classics at the mall. Willa Cather, Sinclair Lewis, Dostoevsky, & Edith Wharton. I gave away the books to people who worked in retail and service professions.
My first stop was the Elizabeth Arden counter. I needed a lipstick. The gals at EA love to read, have Harvard degrees, and are always kind about not insisting on a makeover. They told me not to spend an incredible sum of money on an anti-wrinkle cream. This in exchange for My Antonia and The House of Mirth.
Giuseppe di Lampedusa's The Leopard went to a cook--all right, I did write about his restaurant first, but the story appeared before I gave the book to the happy chef (whose degree was in business and Italian).
An American Tragedy went to a hairdresser.
A convenience store clerk chose The Philosophy of Aristotle, and a manager at Dillard's selected Life on the Mississippi.
Everybody likes a good book.