By Joe Hadsall
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Danya Walker loves “The Stand.” She has read Stephen King’s end-of-the-world disaster tale 10 times -- all 1,152 pages of it.
“It’s the ultimate story of good versus evil,” said Walker, the assistant circulation supervisor for the Joplin Public Library. “It talks about how much of humanity is tied into civilization, and whether we can stay good people without it., or do we revert to our instincts.”
If you haven’t read “The Stand” yet, maybe Walker can help. She’ll have copies of the book to give away on Monday.
Walker won’t be alone. At least 13 people in the Joplin area have been chosen as “givers” during World Book Night, a worldwide event dedicated to sharing books. Each giver receives 20 copies of a chosen book to give away to random people they meet.
The event is organized by a non-profit group with a board of directors representing many of biggest book-related companies, including Penguin, Barnes and Noble, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Random House and the American Booksellers Association.
The goal is to get books into the hands of new readers and share the love of reading with reluctant adult readers, according to the group’s Web site.
Kerry Beier, a teacher in Jasper, plans to give copies of “My Sister’s Keeper,” by Judy Picoult, to parents who come in and talk about their students.
Paul Kroll, football coach at Jasper High School, has a similar plan. He’ll give copies of “Friday Night Lights,” H.G. Bissinger’s tale about Texas football, to students and parents, in the hopes that his players learn there’s more to life than football, and that fathers and sons will share the book together.
Maria Cervantes, a kindergarten aide at Lincoln Elementary in Parsons, Kan., fell in love with the idea for a number of reasons, after stumbling across it on the Internet. She liked the idea of giving books to strangers, but also thought that the act of giving books could help her with another condition.
“I thought this would be good for me,” Cervantes, 21, said. “I don’t talk to many strangers, so I thought it would help me open up.”
Cervantes plans to give away copies of “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. She recently finished the series, and knew that the movie would help make the book easy to talk about with people.
Givers in the program choose three titles from a list of 30 pre-selected books. This year’s giveaway included “The Stand,” “The Hunger Games,” Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian,” Markus Zusak’s “The Book Thief,” John Irving’s “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Poisonwood Bible,” Michael Connelly’s “Blood Work,” Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” and Sue Grafton’s “Q is for Quarry.”
Crystal Akers, a stay-at-home mom in Wyandotte, Okla., found the program while pursuing a couponing passion.
“I’m pretty sure I found it on Hip2Save,” Akers said. “I thought it was a really cool idea. I like to get things for free, but to get something to give back to the community was a really great idea.”
Akers chose “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold. Though she hasn’t read the book yet, she was moved by the story in the movie adaptation directed by Peter Jackson, and picked that from the group’s list.
Cervantes said she’s thrilled to pass out copies of “The Hunger Games,” which was also made into a movie.
“I was totally drawn into this book,” Cervantes said. “It was my little escape. I loved every element, and though this would be a great book to just give to people.”
Cervantes will stand on Main Street in Parsons on Monday, giving away copies of the book.
While some felt limited by the list of only 30 books to choose from, Walker got lucky and found the title she’s give away on her own, without World Book Night.
She said that the personal connection that people make with books makes the program such a great idea.
“I looked at the list and thought that one was OK, and another one was OK,” Walker said. “Then I saw ‘The Stand,’ and I said ‘That’s it.’ It’s exciting, because I get to tell people about a book I love. Not just a book in general, but a book I’ve read multiple times.”
30 stories on display
The 30 titles chosen for this year’s World Book Night are on display at the Joplin Public Library. The list can also be read at www.us.worldbooknight.org.
Day of the book
World Book Night will be held every year on April 23, the same day as UNESCO’s International Day of the Book. The day was chosen to commemorate the deaths of Shakespeare and Cervantes.
A similar event, World Book Day, is celebrated in the UK and Ireland. Children are given tokens good for books.
This is the first year World Book Night has been held in the US.