MONTGOMERY - A Troy University English professor will hand out free books in Montgomery on April 23 as part of the annual World Book Night celebration designed to spread the joy of reading.
Dr. Kirk Curnutt, chair of the English Department at the Montgomery Campus, was selected to represent World Book Night in Montgomery. Curnutt will be handing out copies of Walter Mosley’s “Devil in a Blue Dress” at Chris’ Hot Dogs, located at 138 Dexter Avenue, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Accompanying him will be Ashley Gordon, owner of Mockingbird Publishing in Fairhope. She will be offering patrons copies of Alexander McCall Smith’s “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.”
World Book Night is dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person. Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people go out into their communities and give half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light and non-readers.
“The program aims to improve literacy by extending the culture of reading beyond traditional sites associated with books such as campuses, schools, and libraries,” Dr. Curnutt said.
Curnutt and Gordon were selected in part because they co-host a monthly television show, “Reading for the Rest of Us,” produced through Troy University’s Capital City Connection TV. As an effort to celebrate the pleasures of reading, the show takes a lively, informal look at genres and topics of books of all varieties. In addition to being broadcast on CCC-TV, the program’s eight current episodes are available on YouTube.
Curnutt said he and Gordon specifically chose to give out the Mosley and Smith novels because they dedicated an episode to mystery fiction that has proved one of their most popular installments.
The date of World Book Night coincides with the UNESCO International Day of the Book, as well as the birthday of William Shakespeare. It was also chosen in honor of Miguel de Cervantes, who died on April 23, 1616 (the same day as Shakespeare). In the Catalan region of Spain, the day is celebrated by giving a book and a flower to a loved one. World Book Night was first celebrated in the UK and Ireland in 2011; in 2012, it was also celebrated in the USA and Germany.
In addition to supporting World Book Night, Curnutt and Gordon, will also serve as volunteers and organizers for the Alabama Book Festival on April 20. Troy University is a co-sponsor of the Festival along with Old Alabama Town, the Alabama Writers’ Forum, the Montgomery County-City Public Library, and several other organizations.