Most of us can think of a book that impacted our lives.
Ever since Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1400s, books have been a source of power … to change lives … to change the direction of the world and to inspire and challenge generations.
The Internet has trained us to skim and scan so our attention span has decreased. There’s a tendency to want instant answers and a reluctance to delve into a book and engage the brain.
But there’s something about holding a book in your hands. Perhaps it’s the smell of fresh ink and new, crisp pages or perhaps it’s experiencing a book with a history, the fragrance of age and the softness of well-turned pages. Maybe it's the fact that it can transport you to places beyond your imagination or is it the reality of the permanency of someone’s thoughts held between those pages?
A book is a work of art.
Of course books will never die and book lovers are fighting back.
In Turkey, a group of garbage collectors have started a library from books that were heading for landfill. Initially it was intended it to be for employees, family and friends but now it's been opened to the public and many people are donating their books to the library rather than sending them to the rubbish tip.
The library is situated in Ankara in an old brick factory. It now has 6,000 books including a section for children, an area dedicated to scientific research and some books in French and English. And the library has provided job opportunities, requiring full time staff to run it. What a wonderful way to give books a second chance at life and a community the benefit of all those books have to offer.
Street libraries are popping up around Australia. You can donate books you no longer want or borrow books that you are keen to read. Communities are getting involved, friends are being made and children are developing a love of books. The Singleton’s Men’s Shed de-gassed an old refrigerator, put in extra shelving and a Perspex window in the door to make a great street library. And did you see Costa build a street library on the verge in the last episode of Gardening Australia?
The street library movement in the inner city is proving a great blessing to homeless people. Sometimes books are requested and someone might have that book sitting on a shelf gathering dust and be willing to add it to the library. Its a win for all. Donate books to your local street library or start one. Any one can join the street library movement.
Bookcrossing is a global phenomenon with millions of members and well over 10 million books crossing the globe. This is the act of ‘releasing’ a book into the wild and then having the option of tracking where that book goes, via the Bookcrossing system.
If you have books you are finished with, you can become a member of Bookcrossing, receive a label to put into your book, with a unique number and then leave it in a strategic place, such as a coffee shop, bus seat, in a train or airport, where someone else can pick it up and read it before passing it on. Alternatively you can give it to someone you know, asking that they pass it on when they're finished. The person who gets the book is asked to go online and register the book so you can know where it journeys.
There are some fascinating stories of books and where they travel. One book found its way to Beijing where a woman picked it up – it was her mother’s favourite book and she discovered it on the anniversary of her mother’s death. Another one was left on a park bench in Cork. It was picked up by a Norwegian girl and rereleased in Norway.
For those of us who love and value books, it's a great joy to see books finding new homes and inspiring fresh eyes. There's one book that has had a huge impact on my life, Bold Love by Dan Allender. Now whenever I give a wedding gift, I slip in that book, one I wish someone had given me.
So if you have books you no longer read, don’t let them gather dust on a shelf, send them on their way where they can have a second life. Or maybe buy a few copies of a book that changed your life and release them to bless someone else.
Well, I'm off to release a few books into the wild with Bookcrossing. I wonder where their journey will take them?