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?