If you see people handing out paperback books today at bus stops, hospitals or on the street, chances are it's because of World Book Night. It's an effort to get books into the hands of people who don't normally read much that began in the United Kingdom last year and has grown to the United States and Germany this year. Here's the link to the website.
"Spreading the love of reading, person to person" is its motto, and author Anna Quindlen its American honorary chairwoman.
Buffalo is taking part, with the help of Jonathon Welch at Talking Leaves Books. His Main Street store is a clearinghouse for nearly 400 books. (The books are provided by their publishers; authors are not collecting royalties on the donated books.)
"It's an opportunity to get people thinking about reading," Welch said.
About 18 local volunteers are distributing 20 books each, Welch said. Also involved are Joe and Jeanenne Petri, whose Westside Stories bookstore at 205 Grant St., between Auburn and Lafayette, will be one location for the giveaways this evening.
Some of the titles that will be given away in Buffalo are John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany," Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," Kate DiCamillo's "Because of Winn-Dixie," Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones," Robert Goolrick's "The Reliable Wife," and Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried."
Those are great choices -- each one of them engaging, provocative and likely to promote good conversation with other readers.
In a month when Project Flight and The Buffalo News are collecting thousands of books for the annual Books for Kids drive, this new effort creates some great synchonicity.
Here's a story on the nationwide effort from USA Today.
It's too late for local volunteers to get involved this year in World Book Night, but Welch is hoping the event will be an annual one in Buffalo and will be grow next year.