There’s nowhere to sign up, and there’s no place specifically to go. But if you are very lucky, and if you happen to be in the right place at the right time on Tuesday, a smiling stranger might walk up to you and hand you a book — a good one — no strings attached.
Tuesday is the second annual World Book Night USA, a day set aside for volunteers to give away special editions of 30 different titles. Twenty-five thousand volunteers across the country will hand out 500,000 books in parks and schools, day care centers and hospitals, shops and street corners.
Last year more than 600 Minnesotans gave out books, including titles by Minnesota writers Kate DiCamillo and Leif Enger. This year’s list includes two books by Wisconsin writers — Michael Perry’s “Population 485,” and Neil Gaiman’s “Good Omens.” The rest of the list veers between popular and literary, contemporary and classic, serious and funny. It includes Tina Fey’s “Bossypants,” Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and Jesmyn Ward’s “Salvage the Bones.” (The list is at www.us.worldbooknight.org/books/2013.)
The titles were selected by a panel of librarians and booksellers, with an eye toward diversity — gender and race, genre and geography. The authors agree to waive their royalties for the World Book Night editions.
The nonprofit venture aims to get good books into the hands of people. It began in 2011 in the United Kingdom and Ireland and moved to the United States the following year. You can follow the volunteers on Twitter @WBNamerica or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/worldbooknightusa).