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U.K. and U.S. celebrate World Book Night; plans for a Canadian version in the works

Just Kids by Patti Smith. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Q Is for Quarry by Sue Grafton. While these books may appear to have little in common, they are in fact among the 30 titles on this year’s list for World Book Night U.S., to be celebrated on April 23.

Founded in the U.K. in 2011, World Book Night is an annual event billed as “a celebration of reading and books which sees tens of thousands of passionate volunteers gift books in their communities to share their love of reading.” According to the World Book Night U.K. website, book gifters can apply to give away one title from a pre-selected list (25 titles in the U.K. and Ireland as opposed to the 30 in the U.S.). The specially designed World Book Night editions will be given away on April 23. The only stipulation is that those distributing the books “must commit to give away to those who don’t regularly read to share and spread their love of reading.”

This is the first year that World Book Night has featured a U.S. component. Other participating countries are Italy and Germany.

According to a press release from Jodi White, senior manager of the Canadian Booksellers Association, there are plans in the works to inaugurate an official Canadian version of World Book Night in 2013; in the meantime the CBA is “working with World Book Night” on a “plan of action for CBA members” who wish to get involved in the celebration. The CBA advocates that members select one book from the U.K. list to promote in-store. “Depending on the book, you can have readings, a costume contest and guest speakers.”

April 23 was selected as the date for the event because it is UNESCO’s International Day of the Book, and also marks the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and death, and the death of Miguel de Cervantes (who died on the same date as Shakespeare in 1616.)