“A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold.”
~ Henry Miller, The Books In My Life
If you want to keep something precious
You got to lock it up and throw away the key
If you want to hold onto your possession
Don’t even think about me
~ Sting, “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free”
I was cleaning up my browser bookmarks and came upon the link to BookCrossing.com. Looks like I haven’t visited the site in a few years.
BookCrossing.com (AKA BookCrossings) started in 2001 as a world library and early social networking site. It’s designed to allow you track and connect with other readers, particularly someone who picks up a book that you have “set free” into the world. There are currently 1,574,649 BookCrossers and 11,303,107 books traveling throughout 132 countries.
After registering on the website, to label a book with a code number and message and leave the book somewhere for someone to find. Each BCID is unique to each book so that you can follow the book’s journey and read other finder/reader’s thoughts on the book.
Of course, it does rely on the finder going to the site and also logging in to report their find, and that effort is where things probably break down.
People give books away all the time. You give them to friends, the local library, charities, perhaps used book stores or exchanges. I’m not sure that everyone follows Sting’s dictate that if you love some-one-thing you should set it free. (Sidenote: Was that song really released in 1985? Yipes! music video from when MTV meant something) Personally, I am holding on to my most beloved books but setting free paperbacks and ones that I know I will never reread.
Here are the top 10 BookCrossing countries:
United Kingdom 13%
Looking at my own GoodReads bookshelf, I find that my traveling books have not had a lot of activity. Disappointing. Laziness on the part of finders. That’s why I have ignored my account. But, since I have been making an effort to empty my bookshelves lately, I am reviving my labeling of books in the hope some folks will journal the finds.
Here is the journaling path of one of my releases. It is for the novel The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. I released it on 9/29/2004 at Duke Farms during the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in Somerville, New Jersey USA.
This is what I wrote at the release:
Saw the movie version first (very good debut of Sofia Coppola as a director) then bought the book. It’s a strange suburban portrait of a family and particularly the 5 sisters. It’s set in the 1970’s. It’s a first novel and it is also a coming-of-age novel (those two go together a lot) and I’m a sucker for both. The book & film work well together, though I didn’t find either as shocking as the cover & movie posters proclaimed. More like black comedy than shock.
It was found there and happily “AnonymousFinder” from Mount Vernon, New York posted (a year later)
This book was sitting on a folding chair at the Dodge Poetry Festival in October 2004, and yet I did not get to this site to make this entry until now, because I didn’t know anything about BookCrossing. (Now I do.)
The book lay on the folding chair for quite some time, unclaimed. People glanced at it, but skirted it, as if they were respecting that it might be someone’s property. The poetry reading began, the chairs filled, and I wanted a place to sit down. I hesitated, because I thought it might be “saving” the seat. But then I sat down, holding the book on my lap, in case the owner came to claim it. No one did. I enjoyed the poetry reading a great deal. Then opened the book, as I was about to leave, because of the note taped to the cover. I saw that, strangely enough, the book was meant to be taken, and so I carried along with me.
And then AnonymousFinder posted again on October 02, 2005 after reading the book.
I’m sorry I waited a whole year to read this book. This is one of the best “first books” I’ve read in a while. About the Lisbons, a troubled family of five sisters in a Detroit suburb. The first thing that struck me, aside from the wonderful writing, is the voice. This book is told in first-person plural (as “we”), in the collective voices of the boys who were watching the Lisbon sisters growing up. First time I’ve seen this since Faulkner’s story, “A Rose for Emily,” which is also told by a sort of Greek chorus of townspeople, witnessing death, sex and tragedy from the outside.
I am going to pass this on through PaperBackSwap.com. There’s a waiting list for the book, so I’m sure it will be out traveling into the world again in just a few days.
Sent off, via PaperBackSwap.com, to New Hampshire. Hope the next reader enjoys it.
And there is where that story ends. For now.
I have also found a few books. (There is a map system for finding books and you can track activity in your town and towns around you.)
OK, I admit I don’t remember a lot of specifics about it because it’s been awhile since I read it and my brain is a sieve. I do remember being rather hooked on it while I was reading. I thought the characters and the story were really good–much better than Lamb’s other book. It kept me interested enough that I zoomed through it even though it’s almost a 1000 pages. I hope you enjoy.
Being a good BookCrosser, I journaled after I read it.
Good – not as good as his She’s Come Undone. psychological insights, characters that stand on their own as a unique and flawed beings. Must have done a lot of research for this. Good dialogue. Long for me, a slow reader, at 889 pages. I would have been more ruthless as his editor. Your life is not as complicated, thank goodness. Uplifting as bizarre as the people are in it.
There are other websites for tracking things such as dollar bills and pictures, but tracking your books (particularly ones you enjoyed) is much more satisfying.
Give it a try. How wonderfully serendipitous it would be if you found one of my books.