Thursday, April 25, 2013
World Book Night 2013: 20 Books, 5 Iconic Neighborhoods, 3 Independent Bookstores, 2 Talented Novelists, & a Partridge in a Pear Tree!
I don't mind admitting it: A few years ago when World Book Night was only overseas, I was jealous. You can imagine how thrilled I was, therefore, to participate in the first annual US World Book Night last year. I was equally enthusiastic this year, but far more nomadic. I didn't sign up to be a book giver for 2013 because who knows where I'll be living four months in the future, right?
But I was relatively confident that I'd be able to participate. Last year there were unclaimed books at my local independent bookseller, and I was counting on this year being the same. (People are so flaky.) As the day approached, I called over to the fabulous Booksmith on Haight Street to see if they had an unclaimed box and indeed they did. I said, "I'll take it!"
Montana Sky." I thought, That's odd. I don't know that title. Moments later, I found out why. It's a popular Nora Roberts romance. Oy.
This is not exactly my typical reading--although I actually have read
So, the plan was to grab the books and go. I was on a schedule, and it was going to be a long night.
Helene Wecker's debut, The Golem and the Jinni, which is actually having its book launch party at the Booksmith tonight. Be there or be square. But then someone called out, "Have you read Andrew Sean Greer's book?" Uh, yeah. I loved The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells more than words can say! Helene Wecker and Andy Greer are currently duking it out for my favorite book of 2013. Man, those booksellers are on it. So, the point is, I didn't get out of the store quite as quickly as I planned.
another awesome independent bookstore, Book Passage in the Ferry Building. This is, of course, a commuter hub on San Francisco's Embarcadero. I was running over there to hear Maria Semple, the author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, speak. As regular readers of this blog know, it made my top 10 list last year. What a fantastic and funny novel! The event was already underway when I arrived, and I was somewhat amused/horrified to see that of the two dozen fans present, 100% of them were women. Gentlemen, you are missing out on some great fiction.
Okay, so I was late, but I captured most of the Q & A. Yes, the footage sucks. My FlipCam has no focus, and I was at the back. Sorry. But what you really need to know is this: There are serious spoilers for the novel discussed on this video. This is the paperback tour, and Ms. Semple didn't hold back. I suspect most of us had already read the book. Anyway, the conversation is great and worth checking out, but you are forewarned. Enjoy!
There was no time to rest. As the event ended, I charged out into the Ferry Building and handed out several books to commuters and diners there. My next stop was to backtrack downtown to the Metreon Center. If it hadn't been such a literary night, I might have been attending an advance screening of the film The Big Wedding. Moments after I arrived, the publicists announced that the theater's seats were all filled and sent the rest of the people home. But you know what consoles women thwarted from seeing a free chick flick? A free romance novel! More books were handed out.
Okay, from downtown to North Beach and another independent bookstore! This time, it was to the
world famous City Lights Bookstore. Joyce Carol Oates was reading from and signing The Accursed. Okay, I haven't read it, and have no intention of reading it, but I was meeting my friends Rina and Jacob there, and they're big fans. I've read and enjoyed Ms. Oates short stories. Why wouldn't I want to hear her speak? And I did get to hear her--but not see her. City Lights was packed! I was stuck in the back corridor, listening and Tweeting about the shelves of books all around me. It was okay. My ears work fine. And once the Q & A was over, I joined Rina and Jacob in the signing line. I even took a couple of Rina's books to get signed, and Ms. Oates was friendly and lovely. We had a very nice chat about this truly fabulous blouse she's wearing. (Says she's not great with fashion, and that it was a gift.)
World Book Night was so much fun! Yes, even as passionate book-giver as I am, it's a little embarrassing to go up to strangers and offer them an unsolicited romance novel or to make loud announcements on public transportation, but it's totally worth it! Seriously, so many people were so thrilled to receive a book. This is a wonderful literacy program, and I'm delighted to have participated. I look forward to doing so for many years to come. Many thanks to World Book Night US and all of the participating publishers and authors who donated half a million books to be given away free!