A story about giving in the gym (again)
"WBN came and went in a flash. I thought long and hard about the possible places of distribution but alas, my experience last year coloured my decision and I found myself, yet again, opting for the gym!
So, again, I lugged my 20 books to this place dominated in the evenings by muscle-bound, sweaty, smelly, macho sorts whose prime aim in life is to pump iron, admire themselves in the mirrors surrounding their over-sized bodies and convince themselves that all that really matters in life is the size of one's biceps and the broadness of one's shoulders.
Many remember me as the tiny lady from planet weirdness where books are kings and power lies in pages. They all recalled being presented with "The Room" last year and immediately reiterated their fascination with the captivating story-comments which were repeated to me throughout the year since the last WBN. What did I have to offer them this year? Well, I replied, another story which would fascinate, move, entrance and leave them in tears.
This was just the sort of challenge these supposed iron men needed, and all clambered for a copy of "Me Before You." I have yet to receive feedback from this group of softies, but I bet they will love the novel, want to analyse it with me and await next year's offering. I have these giants in the palm of my hand but more importantly, they are interested in reading and empowered by the opportunities that WBN presents them with. What a great invention this fantastic idea is and what great fun it has given me to be able to spread the love of reading amongst men who realise that there is life beyond weights!!"
Giving The White Queen to non-reading mums
"Dear world book night you made my dreams come true! Thank you all so much for letting me give out the white queen. I had such a fantastic day, and thanks to you there are lots of very happy people in my home town, I gave my books away around my local estate. And after convincing some mums to put down their phones and give reading a try instead of social networking, over a cup of tea they took my books and said they would give them a try, but not to expect to much as they could not give a lot of time to read a book, as the last time they read one was at school
A week later and I saw 2 of the young mums, and they recognised me as the book girl and said to me that they found the book took less time than they thought to get into, and it was really great and they had been discussing it!!!!! And they both had started to think of reading as fun!!!! That's all down to you giving me the books to share it really was an honour thank you keep spreading the joy x x x x x x xx"
So, we chose the books, we printed 500,000 of them and then distributed them to 20,000 individuals and 1200 institutions. On Tuesday April 23 they were given out to those who don't regularly read all over the country to spread the joy and love of reading.
But that's nowhere near where their - or our - story stops.
We now begin the really important work - evaluating what happened on the night, where and to whom the books actually went and how what we've done is impacting on people's lives.
But most of all we do still just really want to say thank you to everyone who came together to make World Book Night happen. It is the most amazing collaboration of people who love and know how important books and reading is, from the authors and publishers to booksellers and librarians and ultimately you, the readers. It is our enormous privilige to be able to work with you all to deliver the power and joy of reading to new people.
Oh, and we're launching a book club on May 1 to highlight each month the one book we've absolutely fallen for and think everyone should be reading. First up is The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion and if you want a little teaser of it you can see Graeme reading from it at our London event this year.
A story of Giving in a shopping centre in Acton for the second year in a row by Sara Nathan
I thought I’d share my World Book Night experience:
What a difference a year makes. Last year I was giving “Small Island” in the Oaks shopping centre in Acton, West London. This is not a place where literacy looms large: it’s ripe for redevelopment and features a Netto and several pound stores. This year it’s no better but some passing shoppers have actually heard of World Book Night. A couple of responses of: “oh, yes please, I saw it on the telly” and slightly less bemusement at a bonkers, middle-aged woman trying to give total strangers books for free.
This year I chose to give “The Reader” which is about how not being able to read, as an adult, can wreck your life. I chose this book because last year I met R who said she couldn’t take my book because she couldn’t read or write at all. She was so sad about it and so determined to learn that I agreed we would find her a course and that, after a year, I would give her a WBN book of her own. Last year, it was a chance encounter in a grim shopping centre. This year we met in a local cafe, as we have every couple of months since she started her classes at the local college. She can’t read “The Reader” yet but she has made progress. She attends college at least twice a week and does homework in between. But it transpires she had a head injury as a child which may have affected her ability to read, so it is a struggle. We read the first pages together. She will get there.
I suppose giving a book like this would bring out other stories. One young woman, keen to chat, told me her partner is illiterate and terribly embarrassed about it. She’d like him to go on a course but, like R, finds there is very little provision for learning to read and write as an adult – it tends to get mixed in with learning English as a Foreign Language when, actually, it’s quite different. She reads quite a bit herself, though she’s struggled with dyslexia, and is totally determined that her two boys would grow up to be keen on books. She reads to them every night even though the older is now progressing through Harry Potter. At the other end of the reading scale, I’d already pressed a copy into the hands of a chatty lady before she told me she used to own and run a nearby Christian bookshop. She offered to give it back because she said she felt undeserving, but that seemed a bit cruel. And she balanced the passing woman whose response to my cheery “do you like to read?” was a baleful look and “NO – only the Bible” as she rushed past my sinful offering.
The other change from last year is that, in the meantime, I have set up a book swap at Acton Central station: three shelves with an ever-changing rotation of all sorts of books. Poetry and children’s go like hot cakes. Stray volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and old psychology journals in German do not. No-one has donated “Fifty Shades of Grey” yet but we’ve had all sorts of fact and fiction in a whole range of languages. I started it last summer because we were on the line to the Olympics at Stratford and I thought people might appreciate something to read. Now it’s really embedded; supported and enjoyed by the community. But it could always do with more readers and more books. So whenever I gave “The Reader” to someone who wanted to talk, I could tell them about the book swap and how it works. Quite a few recipients were really interested and promised to visit – once they’d finished their new book. Reading isn’t just for World Book Night but the whole year.
A story of giving at Edinburgh Court House
Overall, though it was a really enjoyable experience, most people were very amicable and receptive. It took me about 20 minutes to distribute all 20 books. I could have easily distributed double that with ease.
A Giver of Little Face who was surprised by how many non-readers she knew
The first of (hopefully) many stories today to touch us:
A story of giving books as an unexpected patient in hospital
The people who have already had a book have started reading it and seem to be enjoying they are going to come to let me know later on what they think of it.