07 July 2012


I recently learned about a couple of websites for exchanging books.  At one, Book Mooch, members earn points for posting books they’d like to get rid of, and then more points for actually sending one off.  Points are then deducted if you have a book sent to you by another member.  No money is exchanged, it's all done through the point system and the US Post Office.

The other, Book Crossing, will send you a unique book identification number, which is affixed to the book along with Book Crossing’s instructions.  You then give your book away:  to someone you know or to a complete stranger.  You can also “release your book into the wild,” meaning that you leave it in some public place (bus, café, the break room at work, etc.) in the hopes that another reader will pick it up.  If that person follows the instructions, they’ll log onto the Book Crossing website that they have it, and then hopefully, they’ll pass it on to someone else.  You can track your books’ whereabouts, and I suppose, travel virtually with it, kind of like a trackable geocaching coin.

I’ve also heard about some cool ideas like the LaundryBasket Library in Ohio, where a group of individuals accept book donations, which they then place in, yep, laundry baskets, and leave in various public places for free access to books.  It’s an honor system that hopes that its users will return the books or leave another in its place.  I’m also intrigued by the Bilbioburro, a man in rural Colombia who delivers books via burro to people who otherwise might not have access to books.

 I really enjoyed World Book Night in April and I'm looking forward to participating in that event again in the future, although I'm really curious if the books I gave away have been read and enjoyed or not.

The Internet and some creative-thinking people have given us so many cool ways to share our love of reading with others.  I have to confess, though, that my favorite way of sharing books is among friends and family.  There is nothing quite like sharing a good read with someone you love.  At present, I’m struggling to keep up with the bounty of books that keeps finding its way to my door.  It’s a wonderful problem to have, really (and I hope that I won’t incur any late fees!)  And I love realizing that a friend might also enjoy a book I’m reading just as much as I appreciate someone thinking I would enjoy something from their library.

I love, too, that my daughters are now growing old enough to share books with me and vice versa.  Madeleine has turned me on to the thoughtful, interesting stories of Jerry Spinelli and I can’t wait to share Colin Meloy’s Wildwood with her as soon as I’m finished.  My parents were recently here for a visit and they each left with a book I hope they’ll enjoy.

I used to hoard my books, not wanting to share them.  I suppose I was afraid I might not get them back, and certainly I’ve experienced that.  One day, though, my mother-in-law said that she used to feel that way, but then realized that she could always find another copy of a book she enjoyed if she wanted it again.  Unless it’s something we’ve put excessive notation in, one copy is just the same as another for the most part.  And so now I share freely, and often tell the person I share a book with that they can keep it or pass it on. 

What book(s) have you enjoyed sharing with others?

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