Tiago Luz

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Wandering Books

Most of us have a lot of books that spend years on a shelf, don't we? Well', I've come across an idea which I find worth spreading: leaving these books somewhere they're going to be picked up and read by someone else.

I'd like to point out this idea is not mine, it's something that was done by a group of around 10 people, each from a part of Brazil, one of which is a co-worker of mine.

When they bought a book, they would write on one of its first pages something like this: "I'm a wandering book. That means I wasn't born to spend years accumulating dust on a shelf: I'm meant to wander and please as many eyes and minds as possible. Please, after you read me, leave somewhere where I can find a new reader."

I know that some countries have a similar tradition with newspaper, where it's quite common to find papers on bus stops or tram/subway stations. Do you think this idea has any real potential to spread the love for literature?

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    Aug 2 2011: Tiago, there is a website already which encourages the wandering book. It is www.bookcrossing.com. You register the book with the site and put the number they give you on the book. Hopefully, the person who finds the book will go to the website and put in the code. This way you can see where your book has traveled. I've 'released' many books into the wild and have some that have gone as far as New Zealand. Many people don't go to the site, but it's still nice to know you're sharing your books with everyone else.
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      Aug 2 2011: Deborah, I think this site has exactly what I had in mind!

      It seems to be available in a wide variety of languages as well, which was my main concern about the idea.

      I'll surely add this to my favorites and will give it a proper look when I have the time to do so.

      Thanks for the feedback!
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      Aug 2 2011: Dear Deborah, thank you for this link. I have been trying to find this site for the last year but couldn't remember.
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        Aug 3 2011: I was in Alaska a few years ago and actually found a Bookcrossing book in Juneau. It wasn't something I was interested in reading at the time, so I left it there for someone else to discover, but it made me happy to know the process works.
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    Aug 2 2011: Dear Tiago,

    Thank you for the reply. I look forward to the picture.) I agree there needs to be a valid incentive and it takes time. It is also great for me to know that you pondering a similar question and thinking how to spread the love of literacy. Take care

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      Aug 2 2011: Thanks for the welcoming, Kate. I've been a long time lurker in TED, and finally decided I must use my free time to do something more productive than fooling around.

      My picture was taken in the day Natasha, my daughter, was born. She wasn't even an hour old then. :D

      Regarding the idea, this co-worker of mine and her friends do that: they exchange their books on a regular basis, which allows them to read more books spending less money. It is something very good for sharing books between regular readers, but it's not really my main concern here. I'm more interested in a way to provide people who are not readers the kick-off to the wonders of literacy.

      The part of writing your name and city on the book is also a good idea, but I think it doesn't give you an opportunity to see how far the book goes after you read it. It surely would be something fine to get my hands on a book and see that a lot of people with whom I have no contact (and probably never will) are actually linked to me somehow.

      Thanks again for the welcoming, Kate, as well as for your interest on the topic.
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      Aug 3 2011: I worked for a time with a group of trainers who traveled all around the world. There was a 'library' in the office where we would leave mostly paperback books we've read but didn't want to keep in our permanent library. Before the trainer went off on his/her trip, they would go to the library for something to read while they were away for weeks at a time. On their return, they would bring back other books from the training site to add to the library. It was always fun to see what was in the library after they came back.

      I love the idea of sharing books in any way possible. It discourages me that my current workplace has absolutely no interest in doing this.
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    Aug 2 2011: Hi Tiago,

    Yes I do think this has potential. In the UK we had a similar system that was also linked to a website/facebook. So each time someone found a book left in a place they could log on to the website/facebook and follow the book. The great thing was that when that person finished the book they would leave it in another location and register this location on the website. You could search by book or place. A friend who didn't read so much at that time became so fixated on finding books that she became a great reader. I am also considering doing something similar on my university campus. I have so many books that are just on a shelf or in storage. People just need encouragement and an incentive to start. Once you start you get hooked. Another scheme is in Germany where people leave books in parks. I have posted a link to the picture of the wooden structure they use to exchange books that was taken by my niece when living in Germany: http://www.sharonzspace.com/?p=290. I am also collecting ideas about such projects. I would love to add yours to this blog page. If you could take a picture of a book with the writing in it would be great.) If you have any other ideas as well I would be extremely interested. Thanks again Sharon
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      Aug 2 2011: Hello, Sharon.

      Here in Porto Alegre, some bus stops have been equipped with shelves symilar to that one pictured in your website. Sadly, though, I've never seen a book in one of them. I'm not sure if books aren't being placed there or if they are being picked up fastly...

      I think having some form of tracking the books that one has read is a valid incentive for people to participate. Something similar to the pictures which work as baits for kids to start reading, only it's something that appeals to adults.

      I haven't come across any of the books my co-worker and her friends have "freed", but I can surely make the writing in one of my own and release it somewhere. I'll do it as soon as possible, and promise to send you a picture of it.

      Thanks for your feedback, it's nice to know there are people as concerned as me about spreading the love for literacy.