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World Book Night has arrived, at a neighborhood near you

April 23, 2013|By Hector Tobar
  • Children share a book on World Book Night (and Day) in Bucharest, Romania.
Children share a book on World Book Night (and Day) in Bucharest, Romania. (Daniel Mihailescu / AFP/Getty…)

Take a walk in certain corners of Southern California this evening and you might find someone trying to give you a book. It will be free. And it will also be a very good book.

Shirley is going to the pier and beach in Venice, to give away copies of “My Antonia” by Willa Cather, to fishermen and surfers and anyone else who’s interested. Hope, from Beverly Hills, is going to her nearest Department of Veterans Affairs facility to pass out copies of Sandra Cisneros’ “The House on Mango Street” to veterans.

Tuesday night is World Book Night. Created in Britain three years ago and first launched in the U.S. in 2012, World Book Night sees volunteers fan out in their communities, giving away copies of selected books to people who might not read them otherwise.

“Our volunteers are truly generous and creative people who love books and care about sharing the written word with those who perhaps lack the means or access to books or have gotten out of the habit of reading,” World Book Night U.S. Executive Director Carl Lennertz said in a statement.

World Book Night is celebrated on Shakespeare’s birthday. In the U.S., organizers expect 25,000 volunteers in more than 6,000 U.S. cities and towns to distribute half a million books. Volunteers have picked from a list of 30 titles chosen by an independent panel of booksellers and librarians.

The titles are an eclectic mix: Timothy Egan’s history of the Dust Bowl, “The Worst Hard Time”; Walter Mosely’s novel “Devil in a Blue Dress”; and the children’s book “The Phantom Toll Booth” by Norton Juster and illustrator Jules Feiffer.

Lennertz sent the Los Angeles Times a list of 49 events planned for Southern California. Sandee, from Long Beach, plans to give away copies of David Sedaris’ “Me Talk Pretty One Day” at the Long Beach Airport. Melissa, of Los Angeles, plans to give away copies of Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” at a shelter for victims of domestic violence.

The Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (LACES) is participating in World Book Night to help its English Department supplement classroom libraries. The school's English department chose specific titles and asked that as many parents as possible become "givers," resulting in more than 1,000 individual books "given" to middle and high school students.

Also in L.A., a group of professional women who’ve been members of the same book club for 36 years will celebrate World Book Night by handing out more than 200 free books to residents and homeless visitors at the Downtown Women’s Center.

Authors James Patterson and Ann Patchett were announced as the event's honorary chairs last year. A list of events can also be found on World Book Night's Facebook page.

ALSO:

Margaret Atwood on literary L.A. [Video]

Full coverage from the L.A. Times Festival of Books

George W. Bush presidential library opens this week, chads and all

hector.tobar@latimes.com

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