- Pick a book you love and want others to read
- Write something along the lines of ‘Hello, I’m a book, please read me and when you’re done write your name on the back page and give me to someone else to read’
- Leave the book somewhere conspicuous and walk away
I’ve suggested that people write their names on the back page simply because that way everyone has the option of imagining the book’s journey and wondering about its previous owners, which is a silly but hopefully rather pleasant way to pass 5 minutes. Besides which, we could all do with a bit of a mystery from time to time.
In other words, while the last book challenge was about kindness, this one is about whimsy and naivety, because the world could do with a bit more of both.
Some time ago a piece I wrote about a book was Freshly Pressed by WordPress – showcased on their webpage of the same name, thereby attracting a few more readers to the blog. I, by now drunk on the untold power of reaching a vanishingly small number of people, chose to abuse said power by testing my newfound followers.
Accordingly, I issued a book challenge, which was inspired by a couple of experiences you can read about here. The challenge was simple: pick a book, find a stranger and convince the stranger to take the book on the basis that doing something nice without the likelihood of getting anything in return brightens up everybody’s day without being all karmic vegan hippy about things.
For me it was easier said than done. In part this was because the morning commute is hardly a demonstration of the social instincts of humanity but mainly because whenever I’m spoken to by someone I don’t know I have to fight the urge to shout ‘stranger danger’ and run away shrieking like a banshee mid-coitus. As you can imagine this makes job interviews a bit tricky. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not antisocial, just a bit childish (you can find more evidence of this here, here and here).
A few people took up the challenge, but although I’d intended it to be a thing – yeah Frood, he’s the guy who gives people reading material – I never did it again. So I went back to the drawing board and refined the challenge. The plan now is just to leave the odd book lying around with an introduction outlining the challenge and directing whoever picks up the book to this blog so that if the mood takes them they can complain about my littering or call me an epithet.
First up to be sent out into the world seeking fame and fortune will be In Love by Alfred Hayes, which is a spectacular little novel about heartbreak that I probably won’t read again.
I expect that it’ll probably end up in the bin, but for once I’m going abandon my usual cynicism: it’s definitely going to be found, adopted and adored, it’s absolutely going to make someone’s day, if only because when did you last get something for nothing?
And if you out there in internetland fancy taking up either book challenge, please, I’d love to hear all about it.