Sharing books with random strangers

I am passionate about books. Like most book bloggers I review books because I want to talk about them, write about them, and to encourage others to read. When I discover a good book I want to shout about it from the rooftops. As my neighbours may complain if I indulged in such behaviour I shout about it via social media instead.

Thanks to Twitter, last year I came across a book sharing initiative called Books Underground which operates in London (there is a similar group in New York called Books on the Subway). So many wonderful, bookish events happen in our capital city and I felt a little rueful that such enterprises rarely make it out as far as my little corner of the world.

I decided that there was no point in harbouring such feelings. Instead, I determined to try to do something about this lack so set up Books As You Go.

I approached a number of publishers and was delighted by the support that Arcadia BooksHeadline Publishing and Transworld gave me. Thanks to them I have been able to share some fabulous titles over the course of the six months that we have been up and running.

I say we. Books As You Go is still mainly me. I have persuaded family members to help out if they happen to be travelling by train anyway but most shares are actioned by me alone. Perhaps if we are given more books to share then we shall grow.

So, what does a share entail?

Every couple of weeks I load up my trusty canvas tote bag with a stack of books and catch a train from my local station. I leave the train at each stop and place a couple of books on a table in the waiting rooms. My regular drops occur at Chippenham, Bath Spa and Bristol Temple Meads but books have also been left at Swindon and Reading. Where I share depends on the number of books I have to give away and how much time I have to do so.

Each book is adorned with a sticker


and contains a slip of paper explaining what the book share is about.



I know that the books are picked up because I check as I pass back through on my way home! It is gratifying when the people who pick up the books tweet or message via Facebook to let me know that a book has been found.

At Christmas I wanted to do something special so I gathered together a number of my own books that I had multiple copies of and shared these alongside the books that publishers had kindly provided. This seemed a much better use of a book than having it sit unread on my shelves.

I see this book share initiative as a random act of benevolence. To me books are precious and I want to share the joy that they can bring. Most of the time I have no idea who picks the books up but I like to think that the unexpected find has made their day just that little bit better.

I state on the slip of paper inside each book that I would like whoever finds it to return the book when they have read it for someone else to find. I look forward to the day when I am passing through a station and see one of our books left by a reader for another traveller to enjoy.