World Book Night in the US has appointed Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anna Quindlen as its honorary chair, and finalised 30 titles which will be given away on the night.
The event is taking place for the first time in the US on 23rd April 2012, alongside the UK's second World Book Night. As in the UK, a million free books will be given away, but in the US it will be by 50,000 givers, with the number of titles increased from 25 to 30 and several categories expanded, notably young adult books ("middle reader" in the US).
The list is dominated by US writers, from Stephen King to Marilynne Robinson, but includes British writer Chris Cleave's Little Bee. Only one book, The Book Thief by Australian writer Markus Zusak, will be given out in both the US and the UK next year.
WBN US executive director Carl Lennertz said he wanted the event to reach out to new or light readers, especially in places like nursing homes, schools, hospitals and poor neighbourhoods, a similar emphasis to that in the UK next year. Copies of several of the picks will be shipped directly to military bases, and there will be an outreach to prison libraries.
Lennertz said: “By offering a range of fiction, non-fiction and books for teens, we believe we have great books that the givers will be passionate about handing out, and will appeal to a wide audience of potential new readers.”
Quindlen said: “What’s better than a good book? A whole box of them, and the opportunity to share them with new readers. The idea behind World Book Night is inspired, and as a writer and a reader I’m thrilled to be part of it.”
The books were chosen by a panel of independent booksellers, Barnes & Noble buyers and librarians, through several rounds of voting. Thirty-five thousand copies of each World Book Night title will be printed as special, not-for-resale paperbacks.
The registration to be a book giver opens in the US today.
The 30 World Book Night U.S. titles for 2012:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (Ballantine)
Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger (Da Capo)
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (Beacon Press)
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (Tor)
Little Bee by Chris Cleave (Simon & Schuster)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
Blood Work by Michael Connelly (Grand Central)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (Riverhead); a Spanish-language edition, La breve y maravillosa vida de Óscar Wao (Vintage Espanol), will also be made available.
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick)
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (Vintage)
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (Grove Atlantic)
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (Algonquin)
Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton (Berkley)
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead)
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (Ballantine)
The Stand by Stephen King (Anchor)
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Perennial)
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (W.W. Norton)
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (Mariner)
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (Mariner)
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (Perennial)
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult (Atria)
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (Picador)
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (Back Bay)
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Broadway)
Just Kids by Patti Smith (Ecco)
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (Scribner)
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Knopf Books for Young Readers)