Last week the indie book and gift store in downtown Fargo — Zandbroz — sent out a message on Facebook that they were looking for volunteers for World Book Night. Without really knowing what that was, I signed up. I like books and a night that celebrates them sounded good to me.
Well it turns out that World Book Night started last year in the U.K. and now it’s come to the United States. Sponsored by the nonprofit World Book Night U.S., people hand out free copies of official World Book Night paperback books in their communities. Ideally, the goal is for these free books to find their way into the hands of light and non-readers.
A week ago we gathered at the store to pick up our books. I received 20 copies of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. There were 12 of us passing out books around the Fargo area — some other books that were given out included The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Housekeeping, Bell Canto, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Then on Monday evening, we each set out to hand out books. Some people went downtown, others to the local mall, and some to the college campuses in Moorhead, Minnesota (just across the river from Fargo). I went to North Dakota State University’s student gym, and stopped students on their way out.
In less than an hour I had given away all my books. More people accepted them than said no. I found it was a little easier when I approached individuals rather than big groups. Most people seemed a little confused, but genuinely happy to get a free book.
It was kind of invigorating approaching people and offering them books. I hope I get to do this again next year.