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Area readers taking part in World Book Night

CHARLESTON, W.Va. --  Since she learned to read as a child, Vivian Taylor has loved books.

"I was that kid that was always in the corner with a book," the Charleston resident said. "Now I'm the adult who's always in the corner with a book."

And on Monday, Taylor and tens of thousands of other bookworms will get a chance to share their love of reading with others in a very tangible way.

Taylor is taking part in World Book Night, an event that has thousands of people from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Ireland giving out free copies of select paperbacks to people in their communities.

The event started last year in the United Kingdom.

This year, in 6,000 towns and cities in the United States, volunteers will give away half a million books. World Book Night, a nonprofit organization supported by American book publishers, provides the paperbacks.

Several area book-givers are picking their copies at Kanawha County Public Library in Charleston.

Book givers chose from a list of 30 titles.

Taylor will pass out 20 copies of Maya Angelou's autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." She said the book was one of the few autobiographies that connected with her as a black woman.

"It's a young Maya Angelou and [she's] speaking about being a black female child in the United States," Taylor said. "It just kind of rang a chord -- always feeling that you're slightly out of step."

Taylor wants to pass out her books either at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center or the Roosevelt Community Center, she said.

"I thought it might be somewhere a large number of minorities are," she said. "I thought it would be nice to pass the book out to other minorities."

 The date, April 23, was chosen because it's William Shakespeare's birth date and death date, as well as the date on which "Don Quixote" author Miguel de Cervantes died, according to the event's website.

Amy Swann, director of the water and wastewater division of the state Public Service Commission, is planning to give out copies of "Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett. The novel, which won the National Book Award in 2002, is the story of a group of people in South America celebrating at a lavish birthday party at the home of the country's vice president when terrorists break in and take the group hostage.

"It stretches out into months," Swann said. "It's a story of human beings and their capacity to change and evolve and develop. It's just a great story. ... It's kind of a story of survival but also how human beings have the capacity to change."

She plans to pass the books out a little early, on Sunday evening, during Trinity's Table, a weekly meal ministry of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Charleston.

Matt Mullins, of Charleston, plans to give away 20 copies of Stephen King's "The Stand."

"That's one of my favorite books," he said. "A lot of people I know as a genre look down on horror, a lot of the genre people don't like it because of [King's] mainstream success."

But Mullins, who has read the novel four or five times, said it's King's best.

An avid reader, he goes through a two books a week. He said World Book Night is a great idea, especially at a time when e-books threaten to take the place or ink and paper.

"It's kind of heartening -- We're in an era where bookstores are disappearing and it's been going on for years -- that a program like this can draw such support," he said.

The Rev. Nancy White of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Nitro will pass out copies of "The Kite Runner," by Khaled Hosseini at the Community Development Outreach Ministries at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Charleston.

"I think [reading] can be a lost art in a way," she said. "Some people are just not reading anymore... I just like picking up a book, and I hope that other people will develop that same passion for reading."

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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