Last night I had the pleasure of participating in World Book Night. I first heard about World Book Night through NYU, but when I went to sign up a few months ago it was past the deadline.
So I was happy to hear that a group of NYU people were getting together to hand out books. I joined them, and together we took Brooklyn by storm! Or rather, the Atlantic-Pacific subway station where we decided to meet up.
We had two different sets of books – Bossypants by Tina Fey, and Looking For Alaska by John Green. The way World Book Night works is when you sign up the organization sends a box of 20 books of your choice to a bookstore near you. There is a list of selected books each year, and this year had some pretty good titles including Fahrenheit 451, The House on Mango Street, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Good Omens.
After walking around for a bit, and giving a book to a man working in a falafel cart, we decided that our best bet was to hand out books in the subway. Let me say, I was much more comfortable giving out free books in a group than I would have been if I was on my own. New York sees transit time as a time to be by yourself, to listen to music, and to not pay attention to the crazy people giving out things in the subway, because usually there is a catch. But there was no catch this time, just books.
After walking down a subway platform and giving out a few copies of books to people there, we positioned ourselves in a fairly busy hallway. I definitely saw a few people do the “I see you but I am going to ignore you and keep walking” look that us New Yorkers are so good at, but they just missed out.
I also found that once people saw other people talking to us and taking our books they were more comfortable coming up to us themselves. They saw that we weren’t crazy, asking for money, or hiding a secret agenda, and who doesn’t want a good book to read on a long train ride?
Towards the end we were really swamped with people and ended up running out of books and turning people away. Many people took two books or grabbed a copy for their friend. All in all, I must say I now have more respect for people who tend to be ignored in the subway or on the street, and I am definitely signing up to hand out books next year!
After we ran out of books we stumbled across a burger place, Burger Bistro, where you hand pick your burger off of a checklist. It’s rated the #2 burger in the city by Zagat, and the #1 place I go to on a regular basis – $7 cheeseburgers, so now I feel somewhat of a burger aficionado.
All in all I would say the night was a success and I hope everyone enjoys their new books!