Happy World Book Night!

Goal 11: Take myself out of my comfort zone.

Tonight is World Book Night and, put simply, this means that 20 000 volunteers across the UK are giving away 20 copies of one of their favourite books in order to promote reading. You can find out more on their website: http://www.worldbooknight.org/

I’ve just come home from giving away my 20 copies of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. This is the story of a woman thrown into a role as carer for a quadriplegic man, and the story that unfolds between the two.

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This is me ready to give away my books. Note the slightly panicked expression as I realise what I’ve decided to undertake. The suitcase is because I couldn’t carry all the books at once. (Really sore arms today after carrying the box back from the library yesterday.) Anyway, I thought I’d sum up World Book Night with five things I learned.

What I Learned, World Book Night 2013

1. There is such a thing as a ‘free lunch’ after all, but nobody will believe you at first. From an early age, you’re taught not to speak to strangers (and remember that, kids) so if someone randomly approaches you, you’re going to be suspicious. I think most people thought I was a proselytiser. Once you start explaining about the event, the majority are visibly relieved. A few, however, were surprised when the book was offered freely.

2. ‘It’s free’ are magic words. Those who were quick to say ‘I don’t read’ – exactly the kind of people World Book Night is for – were much more receptive to trying a book when they found out it was simply gifted to them. It also seemed that a lot of people didn’t read because they didn’t know what they might like. A free book is risk-free – read a few chapters, and if you don’t like it, it’s only cost you about twenty minutes. And you probably still learned something. (Even if it’s only which books to avoid.)

3. Not everyone wants a free book – but they might have their reasons. A few knew they had so many academic books to read that they just wouldn’t get round to it. (Know that feeling after four years of reading set texts.) When I was down to my last copy, I spoke to a kind woman who said she was already a big reader and often went to the library, so the book would be better appreciated by someone else. And one of the first women I spoke to was lovely, but didn’t want to take a book because she felt the subject matter hit too close to home. It makes you think a little more about all these strangers around you, living lives that will never otherwise cross paths with yours, and all the things they’re going through.

4. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. Many of the people I spoke to said they didn’t read much, but they would ask people for recommendations for a book before their holidays. From a purely commercial standpoint, this is what booksellers and publishers need to remember and seize on on a large scale. Booksellers have to inform the market what is out there, and know what to recommend. Publishers are the quality controllers of the industry. If everyone knows their market, they will know what to sell and publish to satisfy it.

5. It’s always rewarding to take yourself out of your comfort zone. If you had told my sixteen-year-old self that I would one day go up to random strangers and try to convince them to read one of my favourite books, I would have thought you were mad. The idea was still a bit nerve-wracking, but I did it. As they say, ‘If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.’ Perhaps you don’t feel the need to change, and that’s fine! However, little tests like these improve courage and confidence, which can only be a positive, and proves to you how far you’ve come.

So that’s all from me! Happy World Book Night, particularly those who were given a book today – and particularly those who got a copy of Me Before You from me! I really hope you enjoy it, and would love to hear what you think.

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