By Derrick Knutson—
Those who stop by Everyday Joe Coffee and Café in North Branch April 23 for a steaming cup of Joe might just walk away from the business knowing a little more about Afghan culture.
Jen McGill, the co-owner of the shop along with her husband Jim, is taking part in World Book Night, which, according to the World Book Night website, is an “annual celebration designed to spread a love of reading and books.”
World Book Night started last year in the United Kingdom and has expanded in 2012 to include Ireland and the United States.
The organizers of World Book Night, which include the top brass from some of the world’s largest publishers, send the participants 20 copies of a book they choose from a list of 30.
The participants, who must have read the book they selected, then give copies of the book away to encourage reading.
In McGill’s case, she has a personal connection to the book she’s going to be giving away, Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner.”
The backdrop for The Kite Runner is Afghanistan, and the novel tells the story of Amir of Kabul. Throughout the book, the reader learns about the fall of Afghanistan’s monarchy, the Soviet invasion and the rise of the Taliban.
McGill’s husband has been in Afghanistan for the past two years working as a union electrician.
He comes home every six months for about two weeks at a time.
McGill said she learned some information about Afghanistan from what her husband was able to relay to her, but she didn’t get a sense of the country’s culture before reading The Kite Runner.
“When I read that, it really gave me a new perspective,” she said. “It’s the first book that I read that had to do with the Afghan culture.”
She added, “(After reading the book) I called Jim up and said, “These people are very similar to us. I don’t know what I was expecting, something different. But no, they have the same issues we have. They’re a lot like us.”
McGill said she learned about World Book Night while browsing the Internet, and she hopes the program will be a success.
“I try to encourage reading,” she said. “I love reading so I thought this was a really neat opportunity.”