Tonight, I handed out about 25 free books to strangers for the first inaugural World Book Night USA. I offered a teenager a copy of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. “What’s it about?” he asked.
"A woman who has cancer, and then her cells are used to make all sorts of scientific advances. Then the author tries to find that woman’s family and learns a whole other side to the story."
"Is it fiction?"
"No, nonfiction. It really happened."
"I’ll read it. Or my mom might like it. She’s a cancer survivor."
"My mom had cancer, too. I bet you’ll both like it."
"Did she survive?"
"For a while. Then, no. She fought like hell though. And she helped medical research, too."
"Thanks for the book."
"I hope you enjoy it."
Books are magic, people. This is a conversation between me and a total stranger I’ll never see again.