World Book Night

My friend Carol went with me tonight to Manor Care where she works as a speech pathologist. Who better to give the gift of literature to than those whose language has been impaired? “They may have trouble speaking,” I thought, “but they won’t have trouble receiving the written word.”
It was a humbling experience to walk through halls where many cannot walk. They sat despondently in wheelchairs, many of these patients, and looked up expectantly when we walked in. “What did we bear in our arms besides books?” they seemed to ask. Could we possibly give them the lives they held before the brain aneurysm? Before the fall which hindered their capability to walk? Could we possibly alleviate the loneliness?

I walked into one of the patient’s rooms which the director of the facility had chosen for me to give a book, and I had the most lovely talk with Eve. “I have a book for you,” I said and discovered that she loved to read as much as I. “Could we have our picture taken?” I asked. “Oh, no,” she said, completely horrified. “I look terrible tonight. I’ve just washed my hair and it’s a mess…” So I gave up the idea of a photo, and chatted with her longer instead, when I heard a call from the bed next to hers behind a curtain.

“What about me?” this insistent voice hollered. “I love to read, too! I feel so left out!” I walked around to see who it was calling, and I said, “Don’t feel left out. Here’s a book for you, too.” I put my hand on her knee, and I told her I wanted her to have a book and feel the joy of literature. “No one ever calls me,” she said. “No one ever comes to see me, they’re always going to see her.”

“It’s okay,” I said. “I’m here to share with you.”

But I can’t sleep tonight. Because giving out the books reminded me that I’m giving something important. It’s one tangible piece of affection, one little reminder that you matter. You, in the nursing home, spending too much time alone, are important.
If a book can do that, serve as a reminder of what is good and comforting in life, then it has served its purpose. The World Book Night organization has served its purpose.
May everyone who received a book tonight be blessed.
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16 thoughts on “World Book Night”

  1. The Language of Flowers was popular with the women I gave it to. I think they liked the cover and the title and had no qualms about taking it. Last year's Poisonwood Bible was a slightly harder sell (at the mall food court).

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  2. As much as I love books and believe in the purpose of World Book Night, I'm convinced though that it was your presence that had brought about the joy and connection there in the room. Thanks for a moving post, Bellezza!

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  3. I gave out The White Queen in my hometown today and I felt like that even though I was just giving it to people in the street. Some of the ladies that I gave it to looked so happy afterwards 🙂 This is a lovely post.

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  4. I gave the same books as Book Dilettante. I think the problem with The Poisonwood Bible last year was that people thought I was trying to give them a religious tract.

    Your post moved me to tears.

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  5. Bellezza, you made that woman feel less alone and that is just the best thing you can do for a person. I love that you shared this with us. I think its awesome you participated in WBN, but I think its even more awesome that you engaged with these women 😉 You rock!

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  6. So glad you chose a nursing home. My daughter just earned her bronze award in Girl Scouts for adopting a grandparent at a Nursing home, it's been humbling and yet so saddening.

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  7. THIS IS WHAT WBN IS ALL ABOUT! I have never been chosen for WBN (who knows why) but if I am ever chosen I want to give it to people who really need a book as friend. For some reason I don't have a lot of friends.. whatever… but I do think books take me to a world where I don't have to worry about reality. I am sure that person who felt alone feels much better and not so alone with that book. Thank you for sharing this and I hope there are more WBN stories like this!

    Angie

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  8. My books were shared partially at the community centre where my post working with adults with learning difficulties and partially in the farmers market on my route home. Giving me two totally different perspectives on this experience.

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  9. This sounds like such a wonderful experience, Bellezza. Thank you for sharing it with us. I'm already looking forward to the next World Book Night and sharing all over again.

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  10. Marvelous! I'll bet that woman talks about your visit for months to come. What a beautiful story.

    P.S. I can't wait to read this book. I've heard nothing but great things about it!

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