Get Your Read On

 In Culture, Feature

On World Book Night, thousands of volunteers will descend on St. Louis to spread the written word.


On Monday, April 23, a few people will arrive on the Arch steps, sit down one by one and begin to read books. The group of readers will grow larger and larger, until the mob forms giant letters that spell, “Read Books.” Quite possibly the world’s first reading flash mob, the event will be recorded and posted on YouTube. It’s all part of St. Louis’ participation in World Book Night. Designed to spread the joy and love of reading, World Book Night began in the UK in 2011 as a charitable initiative that recruited volunteers to take to the streets and hand out free books to strangers. Its success last year was unexpected—one million books were handed out—and this year, Ireland, Germany and the United States are eager to get in on the action. The St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance is sponsoring the event locally, with Nikki Furrer, owner of Pudd’nhead Books, leading the effort.

Book ’em, Danno
Nationwide, the goal is to get 50,000 volunteers involved. Titles to be distributed include both old and new books, such as “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, “Friday Night Lights” by H.G. Bissinger and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou. The tomes are specially printed as World Book Night editions, paid for by publishers, distributors and authors. The point of World Book Night is to get great books into the hands of people who seldom read. Volunteers will give the books away on street corners, at the office, on the MetroLink and elsewhere.

Give and Get
Furrer says the event is truly a win-win. Those who give away books get to celebrate their own love of reading, and those who receive them get something that can last a lifetime. The bookstores hope that it also translates into more people buying books in the future. While it’s too late to volunteer as a volunteer, there’s still plenty of time to get in on the flash mob at the Arch—just show up!



Get Your Read On


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