Forgive me, this post will just be about my World Book Night experience- a review of the book might follow after, but this was special.
When I found out that my application to be a World Book Night giver was approved I was happier than I’ve been in so long. I love everything that the project stands for- giving storytelling to people who need it at times when they are hard-pressed to find it. The generosity of the publishing houses and all the people involved has been so heartening to me for so long that I could hardly believe it when I got the email through telling me that a consignment of about 20 books would arrive at my local library for me to give out on the night of the 23rd of April.
I would like to say that I thought long and hard about where to give books out, but actually the answer stared out at me from the calendar from the very beginning: you see, the 23rd is St. George’s day and my local hospital (where my boyfriend also works) is also named…St Georges.
St George’s is one of London’s oldest hospitals and is a source of pride and comfort to the local community. As well as offering over 1,000 beds and treating a great scope of afflictions, the hospital is at the centre of a campaign to offer greater support to those affected by female genital mutilation (FGM) and is renowned as a centre of understanding in the field of neuroscience. Beyond all this though, giving books on World Book Night to a hospital just made sense.
I envy the people whose job is the work of keeping people alive and healthy- but the arts can and do play their part in making our society a better, happier place. It is the night, in places which are unfamiliar, when you are worried or alone that storytelling can help you to travel beyond where you physically are, and to help you understand your own situation. To distract and bring you understanding. To comfort you and to take you far away.
I contacted the hospital and found a time that night when I wouldn’t be getting in anyone’s way and then turned up with my books. I handed them across to two lovely hospital workers who promised to hand them out to patients and families throughout the night. I also gave some of the books out in waiting rooms. It was simple and without fuss and I walked away happy.
I gave out 20 copies of Nora Roberts’ Black Hills and next year I’ll do my best to give again.