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Wednesday November 26th 2014

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Spreading the Love of Reading

By Sarah McCartan

In a day and age that turns heavily toward a virtual universe to provide constant stimulation and endless forms of entertainment, it is refreshing to see printed materials still feeling the love.

World Book Night is spreading the love of reading from person to person, book by book. Since its initial 2011 debut in the United Kingdom (U.K.), this annual celebration has extended its reach to serve a greater number of locations. In addition to having made its way to Ireland and Germany, this year World Book Night returns for its second year in the United States.

Set on April 23, William Shakespeare’s birthday, World Book Night sends thousands of book givers out into their respective communities to give away a total of a half a million paperback books to light and nonreaders, with an increased focus on those individuals who may have limited access to reading materials.

Participating authors waive their royalties and publishers cover the costs for special editions of these books to be printed exclusively for this event. From the complete list of World Book Night titles, book givers make their top selections, and from there an assignment is made. Each book giver receives 20 paperback copies of their assigned title to freely distribute—not too many to carry, but enough to share.

Pensacola resident Trish Taylor was listening to U.K. radio when she first learned of World Book Night. Taylor had told herself she would jump on the very next opportunity that came her way, so she did. Without knowing much about the movement, Taylor followed her gut instinct. She immediately applied to serve as a World Book Night book giver and to her pleasant surprise, was selected.

On World Book Night, Taylor will be distributing 20 copies of  “Still Alice,” written by Harvard-trained Neuroscientist Lisa Genova. The book follows a woman battling early-onset Alzheimer’s disease throughout the progression of her illness. Rather than looking in through the outside lens of a caretaker or family member, as is often the case with explorations of this particular disease, “Still Alice” allows the reader to gaze
outward through the eyes of the subject. The reader walks through each step of Alice Howland’s journey right along with her.

Taylor affirms the book to be an easy, yet powerful read that is written from a well-researched perspective, and a story she personally finds both moving and meaningful. She suggests its potential appeal to nonreaders who are interested in the science. For those individuals who may have a friend or family member battling the disease, the book could breathe an air of healing into the grieving process.

As for selection of the book recipients, in the spirit of World Book Night, Taylor plans to go person to person to hand out her books the night of the event, seeking out individuals who are not currently readers, or light readers who may not have recently or perhaps ever read a book of this nature.

“The idea of giving books away for free gets people who may not have read in awhile to remember just how amazing reading is,” said Taylor. “When you read, you get to create your own world in your head.”
Along with providing increased access to literature and promoting the love for and impact of reading, World Book Night sheds an increased light on what many consider to have become a lost art.

“World Book Night raises the profile of reading,” said Taylor. “There are so many other things to do and so many social media options out there. You can turn on your Kindle and think about reading, but then get distracted by everything else.”

A lifelong reading enthusiast, Taylor recalls reading experiences that date back to her childhood, specifically when she first got her hands on C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia.” She has been hooked on reading ever since.

“I am still a paper reader,” said Taylor. “There is nothing like getting into a good book and not wanting to put it down.”

The Leisure Club serves as Taylor’s meeting hub and giving location for World Book Night. She invites all fellow literacy advocates and book lovers to bring along a non-reading friend, and drop by to enjoy bonding over reading and a glass of wine. Those who have the means to purchase and read “Still Alice” prior to World Book Night are encouraged to do so.

“It’s an opportunity for readers and nonreaders to come together and enjoy a nice spring night in Pensacola,” said Taylor. “Come have a drink, chat and encourage others to read. And maybe you’ll even start a new book club.”

WORLD BOOK NIGHT
WHAT: World Book Night U.S., Pensacola Gathering
WHEN: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., Tuesday, April 23
WHERE: The Leisure Club, 126 Palafox
DETAILS: For more information on World Book Night, visit us.worldbooknight.org