Georgia's blog

On Being a Book Giver

with 3 comments

I grew up with books; they were (and still are) my food, my happiness, my refuge, my world. I met the most important people in my life because of books. And naturally, I have always wanted to share this love, this secret of happiness if you want. Being a book giver at the World Book Night on 23 April 2012 was a unique experience for me. Why is that? Even though I have been spreading the love in a different context by teaching Literature at University students, taking it a step further and talk to strangers was an entirely different thing.

The point of World Book Night was to reach audiences that are not normally passionate or even exposed to books, so this excluded giving out the books in libraries or bookshops, which would have been of course easier for me. In my book giver application I suggested that I wanted to give out the books at Lewisham Shopping Centre, which is a meeting point for a lot of people and sadly has no bookshop inside or even around.

Following the suggestions at the World Book Night blog, I gave out some books on the 21 bus to Lewisham. In an enclosed space like a bus, I was able to explain what it was all about and people even asked me questions about the book I had chosen. They were eager to find out. The greatest pleasure was when later in the shopping centre I saw a young boy passing in front of me, reading while walking, absorbed by the book I had given him earlier in the bus.

In the shopping centre however, the experience was almost terrifying. People would not stop, not even to see what this was about, even though it was clear from my self-made banner with the World Book Night logo that I was not trying to sell them anything. It is saddening to realise how suspicious we have become of each other, that the simple gesture of giving without demanding anything in return does not even occur to us anymore as a possibility. So those who finally stopped and talked to me did not just receive a beautiful book, but also the live confirmation that unconditional giving still exists. Maybe this triggers them to give unconditionally, too; and this makes me happy.


Written by Georgia

April 30, 2012 at 17:21

3 Responses

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  1. So why did you choose Rebecca?

    Your post title makes me think of another book, Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” (which I loved).

    I don’t think it was the giving something free and feeling suspicious about it that made people avoid you. It was probably the fact that you were giving out a book and that you were there by yourself. Companies, after all, often do promotions and hand out anything from mini-honey jars to pomegranate juice to free Wi-fi codes (these are the ones I’ve witnessed in the City).

    Incidentally, the only times I’ve ever got a book freebie (other then a Margaret Atwood novel that I randomly found on the streets of Edinburgh once!) was from some religious group/cult trying to spread their beliefs.


    April 30, 2012 at 17:35

    • Sorry about the italicised post! forgot to close html-tag.


      April 30, 2012 at 17:36

    • I have to try ‘The Giver’, haven’t read it yet. Regarding people’s suspiciousness, yes, that’s exactly my point, you only get free Bibles or other equivalent from people on the street, which is giving in order to get something in return. We are used to ‘freebies’ in relation to advertising. And World Book Night is about giving the chance to people who don’t normally have access to books (either because they can’t afford it or because of the social context they are exposed to) to fall in love with reading and explore a side in themselves that will open new worlds! And this brings me to why Rebecca. From the 25 titles offered I had to choose one, so I singled out those I haven’t read. I wanted to be able to talk about the book to people who asked. From those I had read I chose Rebecca because I love the writing of Daphne du Maurier, it is this sort of style that can ‘hook’ the reader and leave him asking for more reading, which was really the point.


      April 30, 2012 at 17:55

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