Because of books.

Thumbnail_GiverPosterWorld Book Night 2013 is over, and it was sheer joy from start to finish. Here are some reflections on the day in Ellensburg, meeting people and giving away books at the senior center and food bank. Volunteers gave away something close to 200 books in our town yesterday. 

An old man plays “You Are My Sunshine” on his old harmonica. We laugh and clap when he’s done. Our tendency to giggle at the drop of a hat has already earned us the gift of a nickname from him: “I’m going to call you Alka-Seltzer, because you are so effervescent! And bubbly!” He shares his old photos. old stories, and old jokes.

Because of books.

An old woman weeps a little as she speaks of her husband who died nine months ago. She is unsure whether she will ever reach for the joy of reading again. “Take the book that speaks to you,” a fellow book-giver says, “and put it on your shelf. If you are ever ready for it, it will be there for you.” The old woman smiles gently.

Because of books.

A young woman says she doesn’t want a book today. “Are you sure?” I ask. “Just take a look.” She smiles shyly and picks up a book with a bright cover. “That one’s in Spanish, if you need to practice,” I say. “Actually, I do,” she replies, and translates the title. “See? You’re already doing it!” I say, and her smile widens as she thanks us.

Because of books.

“That one was a movie!” a man says. “Is the book as good?” “Better, I’ll bet,” I answer, “as long as you still picture Brad Pitt in the lead.” “I loved that book when I read it in high school,” a woman says. “You’ll love it even more now,” I add, as she hugs it to her body.

Because of books.

All day we hear, and share, stories of books, and reading, and life.

“You should read that one to your son, instead of watching television,” a woman laughs to her friend. “We don’t watch television, we play video games,” he answers, looking sheepish. “Even more!” she declares, triumphantly. “Read to him!”

Some avoid us all together, some are a bit suspicious, as if we are peddling an ideology along with the free books.

“We are,” I whisper conspiratorially. “We’re pushing reading.”

Everyone who leaves with a book, also leaves with a smile.

So do we. Because of books.Thumnail_GiverSticker

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