Sundae Horn

Celebrating World Book Night on Ocracoke

Peace, Love, Books

Leslie Lanier at Books to Be Red is giving away free books today. Why? Although a lovely quote from Louisa May Alcott comes to mind (“She is much too fond of books and it has addled her brain.”), the truth is she volunteered to be a “giver” for World Book Night. Leslie will hand out twenty copies of My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, a novel she chose from a list of available titles. She is one of 25,000 people across the U.S. doing the same thing in their towns and neighborhoods. (Do the math. It comes out to 500,000 books!)

Today (April 23) is the International Day of the Book. It’s also, not coincidentally, the birth (and death) day of William Shakespeare. How does one mark such a momentous occasion? That was the dilemma facing World Book Night founder Jamie Byng and his literary-minded friends. They wondered how they could share the love of books with more people, maybe even people who don’t do a lot of reading, who don’t frequent bookstores and libraries, who might need some encouragement to try a new book.

They came up with what Byng calls a “wildly ambitious” idea to give away a million books on one night in the U.K. and Ireland. Thus World Book Night was born. With cooperation from authors, publishers, chain stores, independent booksellers, and readers, WBN became a huge and successful event. The beauty of Byng’s idea was that he would get volunteers on the street to hand out the books.

“We all know that word of mouth is one the most elusive, yet powerful things we have. And when you have someone talking with a real passion and fervor about something they love, it’s a very infectious thing. Without those 20,000 book givers, we’d have no book night,” Byng said in an interview with TIME magazine.

This year, Americans got on board and joined World Book Night.

A box of books for lucky Ocracoke recipients!
A box of books for lucky Ocracoke recipients!

Leslie knew immediately that she wanted to be a giver.

“I love giving away books,” she said. “And I think that anytime you can give away books to people who are light readers, hopefully you’ll find a book they like and they’ll want to read more.”

Being a book giver is free; the WBN organization provides you with the books. But it's a testament to Leslie's generosity and commitment that she signed up thinking she was going to buy the books to give away! When she applied, she was asked to choose a book to give away out of a list of 30 titles. She picked My Sister’s Keeper because she’d read and enjoyed it, and she knew it’s an interesting and accessible read. She could think of lots of people who might enjoy it.

Gee Gee Rosell at Buxton Village Books volunteered to be the area’s books distributor. Three people on Hatteras Island are also givers. Leslie drove up to Buxton to pick up her books last week. “Wondering if anyone else took a ferry to ride to get books…” she tweeted. (Check out this map to see where all the book givers are. Ocracoke is one of those pins!)

If you share a motto with our founding father Thomas Jefferson (“I cannot live without books.”) or singing sensation Madonna (“People think I’m a nymphomaniac, but I’d rather read a book.”), then chances are you’d enjoy being a book giver, too. Plan ahead for next year!

“It would be fun if more people from here applied. We could give away even more books on the island,” Leslie said. “I don’t think anyone who applied was turned away.”

Some of the titles selected for this year's World Book Night.
Some of the titles selected for this year's World Book Night.
Books to Be Red has them all on display!

Leslie’s chosen people will receive a specially-printed, paperback copy of My Sister’s Keeper. The special editions contain a letter explaining what World Book Night is all about. She’s plans to go around today hand delivering her books, so if you see her out and about, please wish her a happy International Day of the Book!

As Walt Disney said, “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island.” You can find most of the treasure on Ocracoke at Books to Be Red (on School Road). Stop by to check out their fantastic collection. Can’t find a certain title? They can order anything you need!  And please thank Leslie for being a WBN book giver AND for advertising with Ocracoke Current!