World Book Night US

Barbara Vey -- April 22nd, 2013


No, this isn’t a night that everyone in the world reads a book.  “World Book Night is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person.  Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people in the U.S. go out into their communities and give a total of half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light and non-readers.”  April 23rd was chosen because “(it) is the UNESCO International Day of the Book, as well as Shakespeare’s birthday! It was also chosen in honor of Miguel de Cervantes, who died on April 23, 1616 (the same day as Shakespeare).”

Last year over a half a million books were passed out.  The books are chosen by a panel of booksellers and librarians.  Their criteria is:

  • Accessible books of quality.
  • Recently-published books as well as established classics.
  • Books available in paperback.
  • Any genre of book – fiction, mysteries, romance, SF/fantasy, classics, poetry, humor, autobiography, and young adult books.
  • The list overall must have a gender, ethnic, and geographical balance.

The books for 2013 are:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

City of Thieves by David Benioff

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

La Casa en Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros -translated by Elena Poniatowska

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

El Alquimista by Paulo Coelho

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster; illustrated by Jules Feiffer

Moneyball by Michael Lewis

The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer

Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson

Population 485 by Michael Perry

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Montana Sky by Nora Roberts

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Favorite American Poems in Large Print edited by Paul Negri


The books I read from the list are A Handmaid’s Tale (scared the crap out of me…too realistic), Fahrenheit 451 (scary and sad…all those books), My Antonia (ok, but not really my kind of book), Devil in a Blue Dress (better book than movie as usual), Me Talk Pretty One Day (listened to the audio book and David Sedaris is hilarious) and The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (ok, but didn’t really grab me).  I didn’t read either Moneyball or A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, but I did see the movies.  Loved Moneyball and you really can’t go wrong with Bing Crosby.

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I think I would have picked out A Handmaid’s Tale to pass out.  It’s a real grabber and makes you look at what’s happening in America today and wondering if this could possibly be our future.  Creepy when you think that it was written in 1985.  Margaret Atwood laughed when I told her it scared the crap out of me.  She said, “Good.”  Like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, possible glimpses into a not too nice destiny, but extremely thought provoking.

Anyone can sign up to help pass out books (it’s closed for this year, but you can sign up for a newsletter for next year).  You receive 20 not for resale paperbacks of one of the books to give out.  The books are handed out to those who don’t regularly read and/or people who don’t normally have access to printed books, for reasons of means or access. Check the website to see what’s going on in your area.

Which books have you read?  Any you want to read?  Which would you pass out?

Bottom Line:  “Books are fun—and they can be life-changing.” ~ World Book Night

46 thoughts on “World Book Night US

  1. Susan Carlisle

    I’ve read Fahrenheit 451. It scared me. I would have for that to ever happen. I couldn’t live without books. I would be more than happy to hand it out. It has a great message to it.

  2. Linda

    I’m passing out City of Thieves by David Benioff. I am in no way an a new or light reader- but this is a book that I never would have chosen to read. Since I’m giving it out, I thought I must read it and I’m glad I did. I found it especially interesting as I have been to St. Petersburg and learned about the WWII seige. Great book!

  3. Timothy Tocher

    I’m distributing THE LIGHTNING THIEF after giving out THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE STORY OF A PART TIME INDIAN last year. As a former teacher and current children’s writer, I try to spread the fun of reading to kids and teens. Lots of great books on the list. Thanks to everyone from the publishers to the authors who provide the half million books we’ll be giving out tomorrow night.


  4. Jan Terry

    Thank you, Barbara, for sharing about World Book Night USA! I’m excited to be passing out Nora Roberts book, Montana Sky! I’ll be walking around my neighborhood, talking about books. And if I find any light or non-readers, they’ll get a great booto try. These are specially pr
    inted copies and all materials have been donated. What a fun night for book lovers!

    1. Jan Terry

      Regarding Fahrenheit 451 always wondered what book I would try to memorize. I was so impressed with people walking around, quoting their book, cover to cover. The most I ever did was to memorize Poe’s poem, The Raven. Wish I still remember more than a few stanza’s.

  5. Angela

    It’s wonderful to see World Book Night growing – I wonder if you know about “Sant Jordi”, the “day of the rose and the book” in Catalonia (Spain)? For many decades, St. George’s Day (patron saint of Catalonia) has been the day when people give books and roses to family, friends and loved ones and it is a huge festival with the streets lined with stalls from bookstores, publishers and other booklovers. There are literally hundreds of authors signing books all over the city (moving from place to place) and the centre is a joy to see, with so many people you can hardly move. The daily newspaper El Pais has a selection of photos here of the start of the day – it continues till 9 pm (that’s 3 pm New York time) and just gets busier as the evening wears on.

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