Arts and Culture

William Shakespeare turns 450 years old on Wednesday, April 23. That’s also World Book Night, a national program that sends volunteer book evangelists out into their communities with copies of bestsellers and classics to give away for free.  

In Louisville, Carmichael’s Bookstore on Frankfort Avenue is a designated spot for local volunteers to pick up the books they will give away (more than 100 volunteers have signed up in Jefferson County).

“The purpose of World Book Night is to recruit reluctant readers, people who don’t traditionally read, and give them a free book and encourage them to do so,” says Carmichael’s bookseller John Beechem. “Hopefully, we’ll get some of them into our store someday.”

So on Tuesday (World Book Eve, so to speak), Carmichael’s on Frankfort is teaming up with Kentucky Shakespeare to promote both World Book Night and the Bard’s big day with a free public event at 7 p.m. Kentucky Shakespeare actors will read sonnets and perform scenes from “Hamlet,” currently on tour throughout the Metro Parks systemWorld Book Night volunteers can pick up their books, and attendees can find out which books are being given away in Louisville and where. 

This year’s World Book Night books (the books themselves are donated by the publishers) include Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling memoir “Wild,” Stephen Chbosky’s young adult novel “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” Maria Semple’s comic novel “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” and Joseph Heller’s classic World War II satire “Catch-22.” See all of the books.

For Beechem, a bookseller, giving books away for free is a bit of a thrill. He’s volunteering to hand out copies of Derek Kirk Kim’s graphic novel “Same Difference.”

“It’s about a couple of young Korean-American twenty-somethings navigating life together,” he says.   

The event on Tuesday runs 7-8:30 p.m.. There’s no set schedule for Wednesday’s World Book Night giveaways – just keep your eyes open.