Books In The Wild

Books In The Wild
1. to share and explore books with those we know and those we haven't yet met.
2. to explore the journey a book takes us on.
3. to release books in to the wild.

10 July 2012

The beginnings of a plan - books in the wild.

The idea came from a train journey. Getting on a train at Victoria I found a paperback trapped between the fold-up table and the chair in front. It was 'The Girls' by Lori Lansens. The rest of the journey passed with the unfolding of the memories of Ruby and Rose and their life in Ontario. I was very grateful to that unknown person who left the book on the train, and have wanted to say thank you and tell them that the book has since been read and appreciated by many other people. It has always saddened me that they wouldn't know this, and it is from here that the germ of an idea for a blog grew.

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© Marconobre | Stock Free Images

The finding of 'The Girls' on the train was a happy accident that gave me hours of pleasure and allowed me to return the favour by passing the book on to others. But I began to wonder about deliberately recreating that accident. Books could be left in places they were likely to be picked up and read; on trains, in waiting rooms or on park benches, in cafes or donating them to charity shops. By creating a blog the book's journey and the reactions it elicited could be documented. I have a vision of releasing books into the wild and then seeing where they take us and what they will show us.

The call of the wild ©Books in the Wild

I'd like the blog to be interactive so that people can share their thoughts, and it would be intriguing to find out where books end up and how they got there. I hate to think of books being stuck in boxes or, worse still, ending up at the dump. Someone once told me that old copies of Mills and Boon were pulped and used in the construction of motorways, bringing to mind mob hits or prehistoric civilisations buried by progress. Whether this is true or an urban myth I don't know, but it saddens me to think of books not being read.

Hardcore road construction © Books in the Wild

I know that there are one or two books that I'd find difficult to involve in this process. Books that claimed a total emotional investment from me. 'The Time Traveler's Wife' by Audrey Niffenegger is one. When I read it I had two young children, one a baby and one toddling. I'm not sure if it would have had the same impact if I'd read it at a different time in my life, but it hit me forcibly in the solar plexus and kept a visceral hold until long after I finished it. I found that I could not pass the book on to anyone else. Instead I kept it on the bookshelf next to my bed, greedily wanting to keep hold of it and hang on tightly to Henry and Clare's love story.

© Books in the Wild
Even now, years after reading it, I cannot watch the film. A recording of it lurks on the hard drive of our PVR but I can't bring myself to press play. I can't see how the layers of the story could be translated into film without losing its passion and tenderness, and it becoming creepy. I have never re-read the story. I haven't wanted to lose that initial impact that reading it for the first time had. However, writing this has made me want to read it again so I'll be interested in seeing my reaction second time around.

The logistics of placing books out in the wild and hoping they'll be read rather than ignored or thrown away is weighing on my mind. I think I'm probably making the problem bigger than it is and the answer is to just do it and see. The process is going to be a slow one. Assuming someone finds the book straight away and decides to read it, it will still take days, weeks or even months before they are at a point to share their experience. It is a leap of faith to assume that any of the books will be read, commented on, or returned to circulation but I'm going to give it a go. Watch this space...

In the meantime, I would love to hear other people's views on books and find out which stories have made the greatest impact and stayed with you. Please feel free to add comments.

© Books InThe Wild


  1. I once gave a book to a friend when I'd finished it, with strict instructions that he was to write his name and location in the inside cover before he passed it on, all so that future readers could see where the book had been before they became a part of its journey.

    Your blog is a wonderful idea!

  2. Thank you Icy. I hope he followed your instructions and the book is still in circulation.