This is Hug a Book Week. How are you celebrating? The creative folks at Atheneum Books have created a new holiday to announce the publication of Hug Machine, a whimsical new children’s book by Scott Campbell. Crass self-promotion, you say? Maybe, but it got me thinking. How do we share the news of books we like so much we could hug them? Do our friends and co-workers know about our favorite books? Would their lives be enriched if they did?

So, I propose an experiment. I’m calling it Take a Book to Work Week. Choose a favorite book and leave it visible at your work space or in the break room. Wait, and see who looks at it. I’m guessing some interesting conversations will be generated by your book. Who knows, maybe you will learn about a new book you’d like to read. Possibly, you will see a coworker in a whole new light. Try it, and tell me what happens.

In my experience, people carrying books are pretty approachable. Today, I chatted up a man at The Shed while we both waited for tables. He’s reading The Man in the High Castle, by Phillip K. Dick, a story set in an alternate dimension after Germany and Japan win WWII. So now I know about a science fiction writer I have never read.

Conversations about books are ice breakers just about anywhere, even cyberspace.  Since my Children’s Reading Foundation colleagues don’t share common work space very often, I tried communicating with them electronically.  Perhaps, I should have guessed that people who donate inordinate amounts of time and effort to promote childhood literacy, are also avid readers. So here is the book chat going on in my workplace.

JoAnn Jonas just finished reading the Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot series (easy readers / early chapter books for newly independent readers). Dav Pilkey, author best known for Captain Underpants, has created a new hero, Ricky Ricotta, a mouse who is very small and often bullied by the neighborhood kids until he makes a new friend, Mighty Robot.Elizabeth Ann Rohovecis reading Pete Hammil’s North River, a book set in 1930’s New York.  It’s the story of a widowed doctor haunted by the horrors of WWI patients, struggling with a practice during the Depression doing what he can do to help whomever he can.  That he makes the most of his abilities and the glimmers of hope that come his way is inspiring.

Elisa Sanchez’s favorite book is The Odyssey.  “My mother read it to me before I went to school.  She would read to me for about 15 minutes before she put me down for a nap.  She encouraged me to ask questions about what she was reading and if there was anything that I did not understand.   I believe that I got my wanderlust from that book.”

“I like books by Daniel Silva, he is a great storyteller and has you captive from the first page.  I just finished reading The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks.  He blew me away with his dialogue and ability for you to feel intensely what the characters are experiencing.  The biggest surprise is to see a man write like that – it was awesome.”

Jan Reed is reading Charlotte the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie. The book was recommended by Road Scholar, sponsor of the trip Jan is taking to Russia. “It’s long and I appreciate having it on my Kindle for travel.  Massie writes in a smoothly flowing style and includes side light sketches of some of the historical figures with whom she interacts.”

I recently finished two fairly new books, birthday picks from my bibliophile husband. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, is the improbable tale of a young teenager in the wrong place at the wrong time who becomes the guardian of a valuable painting; a coming of age story complete with twists and turns and international intrigue.

Anyone with a lingering fascination with genies in bottles or wishes for a robot companion would enjoy the Jinni and the Gollum, by Helene Wecker. Immigrant life in NYC at the turn of the century is infused with old world stories and superstitions. Not to give too much away, the main characters are not your usual everyday people.

Currently, I am reading Moral Origins byChristopher Boehm, an anthropological look at the origins of self-sacrifice in human development, and the survival advantages altruism offers us for the future.

Now, dear reader, it is your turn. I look forward to hearing from you about your books or any other subject connected to literacy.