Author: Luisa Perkins
•8:38 AM

Yesterday I was contemplating the bookshelves in our den, realizing it was time for a purge. Many, many books are keepers. Some I want to read again; I hope other people in our house will someday want to read them as well. Some have sentimental value, reminding me of a certain time in my life. Some are signed by author or illustrator; others are inscribed by friends or family members. In my opinion, there is no better room decoration than a shelf full of books.

But other books I can let go. Several years ago I sold a bunch on eBay, but that was more trouble than it was worth. I have donated many bags full to our local library; I like to imagine these rejects eventually finding a more appreciative permanent home. But right after my contemplative moment yesterday, I happened across something new.

Apparently, the latest cool thing in the online world of books is BookCrossing. Here's how it works. First, you read a book and register it online, receiving a unique number to put in the book and writing a journal entry about it. Then you 'release' the book: leave it at a café or on an airplane or park bench; give it or mail it to a friend; or drop it off at an official BookCrossing zone.

Eventually, someone will pick up the released book and read it. When that happens, the BookCrossing folks hope that this person will visit their website and record where it was found, what he or she thought of it--using the BookCrossing ID number--and release the book again. BookCrossing hopes to "make the world a library and recycle at the same time." I envision books circling the globe and picking up an interesting history all their own as they travel. It seems like pretty good karma to me.

Today I'm making a pile of books to register; later, I'll drive around and release them as fancy strikes me: at the bakery, the hair salon, or the laundromat; or maybe on the doorsteps of a few friends. Why don't you brush the dust off your non-permanent collection and join me?
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14 comments:

On 26/2/09 , Heidi Ashworth said...

What a fun idea! "They", whomever they are, have a program for paper money that is just the same. It is fun to go online when you recieve one of those bills to check out where it came from. So far ours have only been in local locals (ha ha!) which tells me that someone local is the instigator behind this whole thing. Still--fun!

 
On 26/2/09 , Jenna Consolo said...

Sounds like a great idea! I usually just donate to the library too, but oh, I have such a hard time parting with books!

 
On 26/2/09 , Kimberly said...

Our library is too small to donate to, so I've been wondering what to do with ours (including two boxes the old owners of this house left in the garage - grrr). What a lovely idea, setting them free!

 
On 26/2/09 , Melanie J said...

I think Book Crossings is fun. I always leave my throwaway books (read it once, liked it, wouldn't read it again) in airports. It's kind of like when you get one of those "Where's George?" dollar bills.

 
On 26/2/09 , Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Book Crossing is great fun. It really took off a couple of years ago in Ann Arbor - so much so that some businesses started posting "No Book Crossing" notices, so I sort of stopped again, but I do believe it's time to restart!

 
On 27/2/09 , Mary said...

That sounds totally fun!

 
On 27/2/09 , TC said...

I've been a member of bookcrossing for 7 years. It's a great site and a book releases are great way to keep the written word alive.

My bookshelf at bookcrossing.com: http://bookcrossing.com/mybookshelf/TCfromKY/page_1/statusfilter_0

 
On 27/2/09 , swedemom said...

I use a service called paperbackswap. The only problem with it is that you actually have to hold onto the books until someone requests it.

 
On 3/3/09 , Doug & Laurel said...

Hi Luisa
I stumbled across your blog on LDS BLOGS. I thought you mighe be interested in a site my wife and I just built called MormonsMadeSimple.com, which uses simple, explanatory videos to explain the Mormon faith. Feel free to feature any of these videos on your blog, or just share them with non-member friends. We're hoping these videos will be missionary tools to help members share their beliefs. Anyway, sorry to spam your comments section. I couldn't find any contact information for you on your blog.

- Doug & Laurel

 
On 4/3/09 , Catherine said...

I joined BookCrossing once upon a time and then forgot all about it. Hmmm...

 
On 4/3/09 , Debbie said...

That is a great idea. I've read about it but never participated.

 
On 6/3/09 , Goofball said...

huh? I don't get it. So you literally leave the book at a public place?
So what is the added value of the bookcrossings website then?

 
On 10/3/09 , Julie Wright said...

That sounds like so much fun!

 
On 11/3/09 , charrette said...

Oh my gosh, I LOVE this idea! I have the hardest time parting with books. But there are definitely some I'll never dig into again. I love your "read and release" approach to purging the shelves. Turns clearing clutter into an adventure...AND makes room for more books!