I have asked her to share her experiences:
How did you hear about WBN?
As a member of Goodreads.com, I first heard about World Book Night America in late 2011, in time to apply in January 2012 to become a giver. I loved the concept right away, and since I was at a point where I was consciously letting go of some volunteer roles and choosing new activities that better align with my passions, this seemed made for me!
What book did you pass out?
In 2012, I was amazed to see The History of Love (Nicole Krauss) on the list. It's one of my all-time favorite books, and I was lucky that this is the one I was able to give.
This year, I gave Norton Juster's young people's novel, The Phantom Tollbooth, a favorite from my own childhood.
Where/How did you pass it out? To Whom?
In 2012, I started with my work group, among which there are several young adults who seem to read email and not many books. Because they know me, they were receptive and I didn't have to do much of a pitch to pass out 12 of my 20 copies. Another handful went to people at the Day Center for the Homeless in a church basement near my office. I was a bit nervous approaching these folks, as I do not typically personally interact with people who are dealing with homelessness--I mean, to the extent of having a conversation. But it was great! I gave out 5 copies there and each person was happy and grateful to receive a new book of their own. The remaining copies went to the Probation check-in waiting room down the street. I did not get a chance to talk to the recipients, but the desk person assured me the books would get into their hands.
This year, I gave only about four copies at work, another 5 or so at the Day Center. (One to a ten year-old kid! Exactly the right age for The Phantom Tollbooth.) Another few went to people on the street, one handful to the Jackson Street Youth Shelter, and the last batch went to some firefighters at the fire station. I felt a challenge offering this book to adults, but it went fine. If I had it to do over, I would have gone during the day; dinnertime is not a great time to knock on the jail door. (It was closed.)
Did the event change your idea/perspective of reading/people?
The old saw, "You can't judge a book by its cover" rings true for me. It doesn't matter how a person is dressed or how they speak; when you make a connection over something that might give them pleasure, their eyes light up and you get that little bump that says, "We really are all one."
Also, I seem like an outgoing person but I'm really shy about approaching people I don't know. So this gets me a bit out of my comfort zone, and it always seems to work out fine!
How did your experience differ from this year's giving?
In 2012, I was very passionate about the book I chose (The History of Love). This year, not as much. I mean, I loved the book from childhood, but I only chose it because it was one of the few on this year's list of titles that I had read. Also, I would have taken some to the nearest "free lunch" elementary school but when I picked up my books I met another person giving this book away who actually works there! And was planning to give books there and at the Boys and Girls Club. I had a hard time figuring out where else I could find 12 - 16 year-olds without being "that creepy woman hanging out around the skate park."
In future, I will be more considered about choosing a book I can get really excited about, right up to the line but not actually frothing at the mouth.
And I think I'd like to try going out with a group. At the pickup book store (Grass Roots Books here in Corvallis, Oregon), one person had a great plan: three people going out together to give books, each one with a book geared toward a certain age range. They were ready for young, old, and in between. Cool!
Lainie seems like an amazing person and you can follow her adventures here.