As many of you may remember, April 23 was World Book Night, and volunteers all around the United States handed out free books on the streets of their local cities.
After I collected my box of books from a local Barnes and Noble, I headed over to a well-trafficked area near my office. I was in midtown Manhattan in Columbus Circle, and with a subway station, a mall entrance, and Central Park all less than a few feet away from where I set up shop, I knew there would be plenty of pedestrians to talk to.
I was very curious as to how New Yorkers would react to someone handing out a free book on the street, and wanting nothing in return. Of the people who weren’t wearing headphones, completely ignoring me, or saying no before I got within a few feet of them, here were some of the most common questions I got:
“What’s this book about?”
“Did you write it?”
“How much does it cost?”
I enjoyed explaining that it was World Book Night, and that it was a celebration of literacy and learning. I got a few strange looks, but most of the 20 plus individuals that I had the pleasure of talking to left with a book in hand and a smile on their faces. My book of choice was Little Bee, by Chris Cleave and I’m very happy to say that 20 New Yorkers who had never heard of this title before, now own their very own free copy. I’ll definitely do it again next year.
Check out the hashtag #wbnamerica on Twitter to see all the tweets sent by givers (and book receivers) that night.