Avid readers are gearing up for World Book Night on April 23, and Linda A. Duggins, director of multicultural publicity at Hachette Book Group, sure
is happy about it.
This global event, according to organizers, is a celebration of reading and books that will see tens of thousands of people sharing books with others in communities across America and beyond.
Community organizations and individuals who contacted the World Book Night organizers were able to choose from a list of 30 books to distribute to
young folk, including “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, “The Hunger Games,” “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” and “Kindred.”
“The goal is to give books to new readers, to encourage reading, to share your passion for a great book,” said Duggins.
“The first World Book Night was held in the U.K. last year, and it was such
a big success that it’s spreading around the world! Zing!” WBAI radio fans are used to hearing her dulcet tones on “Off the Page.” Duggins is also the co- founder of the famous Harlem Book Fair.
Reading is her passion. Well, one of them, next to her family, especially Moms (Silvia), and her spiritual pursuit for peace and balance. “We all come to this planet to serve.”
She has worked for Hachette Books for 11 years “and it is a fun, fun,
fun place. Hachette Book Group is a leading U.S. trade publisher headquartered in New York and owned by Hachette Livre, the second largest publisher in the world,” said Duggins.
“I like working with my authors, some of them I love. I respect someone’s craft and I have to respect that book and someone’s work.
Someone spent a lot of time putting that book together, and some authors work really hard to get the word out after the book comes out.”
Duggins works with a lot of well-known authors, from Pam Grier and Shaquille O’Neal to Henry Louis Gates Jr., Tyrese Gibson and Felicia “Snoop” Pearson.
“I want people to know about the book, not only because it would be good for people to buy books, but reading is the ticket.
I mean, worlds open up, you have so much power with your knowl-
edge. I learned that a long, long, time ago. And no one can take that from you. When you read personal stories, you find that the writers are just like you and me.”
Autobiography over ction? “People write books for lots of different reasons, I think healing is one of them. I think it can bridge people and communities together.”
Duggins walks around with panoramic shades on. “I do,” she beams some more. “I get on the subway, and I see love and life.” When a good old New York attitude threatens to creep up on her, Duggins said, “I practice
mindfulness. I say, “Nobody shot me, I’m not dead. I rearrange the way I think about things.
I’m happy to be alive. I’m like, ‘Get over yourself, girl.’ I do things to
make myself feel good.”
Could it be the yoga, the Pilates, the massages and the retreats? “Yes,” she said, “I love life.
I’m a keep-it-real sister. Don’t get me wrong now, I am not shy. If I need to step up and say something, I say it, but I am mindful of being a lot more compassionate and respectful. When I was 25, I was afraid of myself!
I really work on staying mindfully upbeat. It’s a part of healing. If you are
constantly telling yourself a bunch of negative stuff, you will have repercussions in your outlook, in your spirit, your body and how you interact with people.”
Duggins has a broad vision for people. “I come from the Queensbridge
Housing Project, the biggest housing project in the United States.
It was built in 1939. When I was there, there were 7,000 people. It was like a big little village. Duggins proudly asserted, “I am a product of the Queens- bridge Houses.
It was a very powerful place and still is. The demographics have changed.
When I was coming up, there was some of everybody, Black, white, Puerto Rican. But it was always a vibrant community, like one big crazy family.”
Giving back is a huge part of Duggins’ personal philosophy. “I am on the Queensbridge Scholarship Fund board, and members on the board are former and current residents of Queens-bridge Houses and Ravenswood
Our goal is to raise money to help some of those college-bound young folk pay for books and give them a stipend.
We have a responsibility to give back to where we come from.”
To this end, Duggins will be celebrating World Book Night with folks from her old stomping ground at the Jacob Riis Community Center.
There are World Book Night givers who are volunteers and will be handing out a set of books. I’ll be giving out ‘Kindred’ by Octavia Butler–one of my favorite books.
There are adult, young adult and children’s books. The only qualication is that you are going to share your love of reading and your love of a particular book in whatever community you deem to be underserved, and
the community I come out of is one of those communities.”
For more information, visit www.worldbooknight.org