World Book Night Is Tonight, Free Books for 500,000 People

In News by Dennis Abrams

World Book Night 2013By Dennis Abrams

Tonight is World Book Night, which means that more than 25,000 volunteers throughout the United States are going to be handing out a half a million free books to help promote reading and community.

Volunteers will each be distributing 20 specially printed copies of a book they have loved and read in both public and private locations – places like nursing homes, underfunded schools, VA hospitals, family shelters, Little League games, subways, firehouses, and diners.

In Kentucky for example, a woman who was once a resident of a women’s shelter who is now living on her home, will be returning to the shelter to give out books. Three generations of givers are going out in Detroit, New Orleans, and on a military base in Okinawa. High school students and advisors in Queens, New York, will visit a school damaged by Hurricane Sandy to hand out WBN editions in English and Spanish.

World Book Night U.S. Executive Director Carl Lennertz said, “Our volunteers are truly generous and creative people who love books and care about sharing the written word with those who perhaps lack the means or access to books, or have gotten out of the habit of reading.”

World Book Night U.S. is celebrating its second year of book giving. World Book Night was launched in the UK and Ireland three years ago, and is celebrated on the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birthday. The effort is supported by publishers, book manufacturers, Federal Express, and more than 2,300 bookstores and libraries nationwide.

The books being given were chosen by an independent panel of booksellers and librarians. Thousands of each World Book Night title, including two Spanish-language editions and one book in large print, were printed as special paperbacks. Some of the books have an added page that the recipients can send back to World Book Night with comments and thoughts.

Lennertz added, “This is a beautiful mix of books that match the volunteers’ passion to share – the givers applied last fall to be WBN volunteers online by essay and book choice request – as well as appeal to the half million recipients of the books, some of whom might be getting the first book of their own, ever. We looked for diversity and variety in the book choices: subject matter, age level, ethnicity and geography. And we thank the authors, who have agreed to waive royalties on the World Book Night editions.”

The 30 World Book Night U.S. titles for 2013, alphabetical by authors, are:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood (Anchor Books/Random House)
  • City of Thieves, by David Benioff (Plume/Penguin Group USA)
  • Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury (Simon & Schuster Paperbacks
  • My Antonia, by Willa Cather (Dover)
  • Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier (Plume/Penguin Group USA)
  • The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage/Random House)
  • La casa en Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros; translated by Elena Poniatowska (Vintage Espanol/Random House)
  • The Alchemist, by Paul0 Coelho (HarperOne/HarperCollins)
  • El Alquimista, by Paulo Coelho (Rayo/HarperCollins)
  • The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Ballantine/Random House)
  • The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Bossypants, by Tina Fey (Reagan Arthur/Back Bay Books)
  • Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett (William Morrow/HarperCollins)
  • Still Alice, by Lisa Genova (Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster)
  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Speak/Penguin Group USA)
  • Playing for Pizza, by John Grisham (Bantam/Random House)
  • Mudbound, by Hillary Jordon (Algonquin Books/Workman Publishing)
  • The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster; illus. by Jules Feiffer (Yearling/Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)
  • Moneyball, by Michael Lewis (W.W. Norton)
  • The Tender Bar, by J.R. Moehringer (Hyperion)
  • Devil in a Blue Dress, by Walter Mosley (Simon & Schuster)
  • Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life, by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • Population: 485, by Michael Perry (HarperPerennial/HarperCollins)
  • The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion)
  • Montana Sky, by Nora Roberts (Berkley/Penguin Group USA)
  • Look Again, by Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin’s)
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris (Back Bay Books/Little Brown)
  • The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith (Anchor books/Random House)
  • Glaciers, by Alexis M. Smith (Tin House Books)
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain (Dover)
  • Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury)
  • Favorite American Poems (Large Print edition), by various authors, (Dover)
About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.