I’m a Book Pusher*

24th April 2012

*Sing to the tune of “I’m a Girl Watcher.”

It has come and gone! World Book Night America was a huge success on my end. I added bookmarks to each of the books just for fun. I made them from a tutorial I found on Pinterest.

My mom and sis met at my house at about 4:30, made ham sandwiches and packed them, and set out.

  • Stop 1: The downtown library.

My downtown library usually has a good number of homeless people roaming around. Today, of course, no dice. Apparently, the library has reorganized its tables, so the homeless people who used to sit at tables all day in the stacks don’t feel comfortable doing that anymore. There is also a big green space next to the library, but no one was there. I was able to give my first book to a homeless woman sitting with her things, looking at a few books. She was a bit wary, but she thanked me for the book.

  • Stop 2: The bus stop.

My sis suggested this stop as the area had a lot of people waiting for buses. Two women were glad to accept the book, and a third person approached us, so we knew he was interested. We talked briefly, and the highlight was when Mom said: “Don’t worry, this isn’t religious!” and then wished the ladies “a blessed day.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Stop 3: Man sitting by himself near the bus stop.

This man was so sweet. We gave him two sandwiches and the book, and he looked at us and said, “Really?”

I don’t even know if he could read, but there is a really poignant scene in The Book Thief where Liesl doesn’t know how to read but treasures the book anyway. I think Mom was near tears. Meag (my sis) was yelling in the car for him to eat the sandwich.

  • Stop 4: Park across the street from the bus stop.

This park has two giant oak trees with branches reaching the ground. There were two men sitting beneath them. One man wasn’t interested. The other was asleep. Mom left a sandwich, and they came away.

  • Stop 5: A park across town

This park was gold. Young families were out playing in the beautiful weather. Individuals were sitting at picnic benches studying. People were walking their dogs. My sister approached a young family eating a picnic dinner with their baby. The woman pointed to the baby and said she didn’t get much time to read. We told her maybe when she was up feeding the baby she could enjoy it. The man was interested, though, so we gave him a copy.

Several of the families on the playground were excited to get copies. One man told us he loved to read and was excited to get a free book.

An older woman was walking her dog and was curious what the book was about. We told her, and she took a copy, but a minute later, she called to us. She said she wasn’t sure she could read it because her dad was in World War II, and it would make her think of him and make her sad. She also talked about visiting the place where Anne Frank hid and said she thought it would bring back some upsetting feelings.

A middle-aged man was really excited about the book and told us his family all loves to read. He was very curious about the book, so it was fun to get to talk to him a bit. Since we all three read and loved the book, we each kept jumping in with more information. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Stop 6: Retirement Home

So Meag and I decided to see if they would allow us to give books here. We walked right in, and there was no one there except an elderly woman in a wheelchair staring out the window. We kept walking, and again we saw no one. We were kind of worried about the old folks at this point. An older black gentleman rolled up and said: “You gals need some help? I can probably help you.” We asked if he was the boss, and he just chuckled. We explained what we were doing and gave him a copy of the book. He held it with both hands to his chest and thanked us. We also gave one to a nurse.

And then we couldn’t leave…because we were locked in. It makes sense. The door locks from the inside. Finally, another old lady in a wheelchair gave us the code (sounds very safe), and we left. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Stop 7: Hospice Center

The hospice center had a security guard at the front, and we left a book in the library there.

Then we asked if we could walk around, but we didn’t want to disturb any of the families. We found a nurse station, and there were several nurses around it. They were so fun! A couple said they liked to read, but they were all interested. They loved the bookmarks I made, and so we visited with them for several minutes. You could tell they were really excited to have us come in there, and we took a picture. I can imagine they don’t get a whole lot of bright spots in their work, so it was nice to be able to give them something.

Aren’t they great? The two in blue are already readers, but the three in red don’t read as much and are excited about The Book Thief.

And that was all of the books! It was interesting because 20 books doesn’t seem like all that many, but we felt like we passed out a bunch at the second park, and we still had plenty to give. It. Was. Fantastic. I am so incredibly glad I got to participate, and I’m so thankful my mom and sis went with me. It really made the experience that much better.

To the organizers of World Book Night America: Thank you so very much for allowing people like me to help you do something so fantastic. Thank you for the hard work to organize such a huge event, and thanks for the dedication to books and reading. Wish I could give you guys a book tonight. ๐Ÿ™‚

As for The Book Thief, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite passages that I think is fitting for tonight:

I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race – that rarely do I even simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant…I AM HAUNTED BY HUMANS.

Ultimately, this is what I kept in mind for World Book Night. We do overestimate and underestimate each other all the time. The people I met tonight are from all walks of life, but each one *seemed* interested, and all of them seemed happy to have received a book. They flipped over to the back to read, opened it up, looked at it closely, and some held it close to their hearts. I like these people.

P.S. If you do a writeup of your own WBN experiences, tell me in comments, and I’ll link to your post! Hope your night was as fun as mine.
Karen at Books and Chocolate
Rhiannon from Diary of a Bookworm
Alison’s Book Marks

  • So jealous about your super fun experience. Alas, mine was OK, but would have been so much better had it not been like, a WORK event. Anywho, book night love from Julz….

    • SO sorry it wasn’t fantastic. I know you were looking forward to it a lot. Book night love to you too. No matter what, you were a part of something very cool tonight.

    • PS, I posted updates since this morning, and can you pretty please send me one of those cool book marks and tell me how you made them? You rock!

      • Already have one set aside for you. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Got your letter today, so expect a letter soon.

  • Marleneravey

    What a great evening…had the best time! It was a real honor to be a part of World Book Night…such fun ‘pushing’ such an amazing book, and being a reader advocate! Thank you so much for inviting me…it just was good for my soul!

  • So happy you hear how fun your experience was! Turning it into an adventure with your mother and sister was a great idea. Love the photos. Thanks for sharing!

    • Ugh! Typo! I have a migraine today so my spelling is all wonky, but you know what I mean.

    • Elyse – thanks! You calmed my nerves this afternoon. And yeah- it was really great to have them along. So sorry you have a migraine. Unfortunately, I know the feeling. Do what works for you – if anything – and feel better soon.

  • I gave away the same book today. I decided to give pretty much all of mine to students. I was sad that I couldn’t give every student a book, but those who got them clutched them to their chests. A few said thank you for giving them a book, and one told me it was the only book he owned. I thought it was fitting, given the content of the book.

    I’m glad you were as successful. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Perfect, Allie. So glad it was such a great day. And you’re right, incredibly fitting.

  • TNBBC

    Jenn, thanks for sharing your World Book Night with us! I am so glad you had such a great time doing it! Sort of sorry I had to work and wasn’t able to participate!

    • Lori – it was so great! You should totally apply next year.

  • Laura Rowsell

    What a lovely story! I hope all those people enjoy their books ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Laura – I hope so too. That’s the one part of giving the books out that’s hard. I’d love to know if they read it and what they think!

  • This is wonderful, and I love the bookmarks you made! I’m so glad you had such a great experience. I’m not a Grinch by any means, but my heart still grew ten sizes reading your post. Thank you for sharing!

    • Heather – I feel the same way. It really was very touching to see some of the responses. Plus, people couldn’t help but smile when they realized it really was a free book.

  • Leslie

    Wow! Love this! So glad your mom and Meagan went. Sounds like an experience none of you will forget.
    Had me laughing out loud with the not religious -have a blessed day line! Too funny.
    Glad you were able and wanted to do this! love you -les

    • I know! Mom is so funny. It was so so fantastic. You should apply to be a giver next year because as Mom texted me last night, it will live with me for a while. Love you too. Jenn

  • steph_h

    What a wonderful and uplifting experience you had! Thanks for sharing it with those of us who couldn’t participate. It really sounds like you made the most of your 20 books and made a lot of days brighter as a result. I’ve heard that there’s a store in Cambodia where you can buy children’s books to hand out when visiting orphanages or even when street children come up to you begging. I have told Tony that I really want to do that when we are there.

    So glad this was such a positive experience! But then again, when books are involved, how could it not be?

    • Steph – that sounds awesome! I saw someone on Twitter last night saying they were going to start carrying around extra books all the time to give away. What a fantastic idea.

      And yes, it really was positive. I know some people were discouraged by the numbers that turned down books, but that wasn’t my experience at all.

  • What a great report! I think it was great that you did this with the three of you and were able to make that many people happy with a book. Love the pictures, too!

    • Honestly, I think it made people more apt to read the book because all three of us loved it and talked about it so enthusiastically. (Which also made me all the more grateful that I come from a family of readers). Thanks so much, Judith!

  • Andi

    I love this!!! You all covered so much ground, too. I love that you were able to visit a variety of people and places and spread the World Book Night love. Great job!

  • *stamps foot* I can’t believe the first part of the year slipped away from me and I didn’t applyt to participate in this event! I procrastinated, I admit. Oy!

    It looks like you had a ton of fun doing this. I want to personally thank you for visiting the hospice. I’ve visited a hospice when a close aunt was at the end of her battle with breast cancer, and I know that the nurses who work there are some of the kindest people in the world. They deserve a good book to read, and a surprise visit from an enthusiastic blogger. Well done, Jenn!

    • I procrastinate quite a bit, my dear. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I saw all the UK posts about this last year and signed up as soon as I possibly could. I was so excited to be chosen!

      As for hospice, it was my thoughtful mom’s idea, and I loved it. Thankfully, I haven’t dealt much with hospice, but a dear friend of mine has, and I know that the family and friends of those AND the nurses could probably use something to break up the sadness of their days. It was truly an honor to be able to share.

  • DJ

    thanks Jenn

    A lovely story indeed. This “grinche’s” heart did indeed grow just a little larger.

    And, I look forward to the day when grinches like me and loving people like you no longer find it necessary to note, or for that matter, even notice, that the old man in the nursing home was black (or white, or brown or non-white etc.)

  • DJ

    thanks Jenn

    A lovely story indeed. This “grinche’s” heart did indeed grow just a little larger.

    And, I look forward to the day when grinches like me and loving people like you no longer find it necessary to note, or for that matter, even notice, that the old man in the nursing home was black (or white, or brown or non-white etc.)

    • You know, I actually thought that as I typed it out, but I didn’t think about it long enough to change it. You’re completely right. He was an absolutely lovely man and the only one who really helped while I was there. Oddly enough, the nurse was black as well as were the two homeless people, but I didn’t mention it there. I have no idea why. Strange. Sometimes I wonder why our brains work the way they do.

      • Aaagggh. And two people at the bus station and three people at the park. Now I’m seriously wondering why I pulled it out for the man at the nursing home when I didn’t mention it for anyone else. Now I’m obsessing about it.

        • Drejmd

          That’s 8 to 1 by my count. Pretty darn good I’d say.

          It just reminded me of a little story a friend’s mom told me once. Actually she was really just musing out loud about how her neighborhood had changed so much and that it seemed like everyone at the local school was Asian now. The cool part of the story for me was that apparently when she mentioned it to her grand-daughter one day after school, the elementary school-aged child said “really grandma? I hadn’t noticed”

          Hopefully she never starts.

          DJ

          • pickygirl

            Yeah – but it’s still interesting to me in terms of how my brain works and why it distinguished for one person and not others.

            That’s the great thing about children raised in diverse communities. I absolutely love hearing stories like that.

  • Good for you! I am impressed! Have a blessed day.

    • You’re hilarious. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Yvette

    I am in awe of you and your mom and your audacity. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m thinking that the world is a better place for people like you, kiddo.

    • Yvette – you always make me feel so good. But honestly, it was so much fun. We had fun together. We had fun talking to people. It was like being Santa Claus on a nice, spring day.

  • Ti

    Excellent job!! I love what your mom said about it not being about religion and then wishing them a blessed day. LOL.

    • I know. She cracks me up! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Aparatchick

    How cool is that! The Book Thief is such a great book. You’ve inspired me to get involved in next year’s event.

    • That’s fantastic! If you go to their website, you can sign up for their newsletter so you don’t miss the deadline next year. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • Love this post Jenn and I’m so glad you shared your experience. I was too much of a weenie to participate this year (anxiety going up to strangers) but have already put myself on the list for next year after hearing everyone’s amazing experiences. And I LOOOOOOOOVE the bookmarks.

    • pickygirl

      I’m SO chicken about this kind of thing, but I knew I’d be disappointed if I didn’t participate. I read all the UK book bloggers’ posts about it last year and knew I wanted to be involved. You should definitely sign up next year!

  • alleyandthemovies

    This is beautiful! Excellent post.

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