Thursday, February 28, 2013


On the flight home from Los Angeles to Shanghai, the talkative man sitting next to me gave me the used paperbacks he'd finished on the flight. This is perhaps the best gift I've received from a random stranger (and no, not the only one, people seem to like giving me stuff).

I keep thinking that this should be a thing... Keeping all those books which would otherwise grow dusty on shelves circulating throughout the world by handing them off to random strangers.

I pass most of mine along, as English-language books are available at a high premium in the Asian countries I've lived in. Sharing my bounty means more books make their way into my hands. I love my Kindle, and read 43 books on it in 2012. I'm grateful to have a way to get cheap books to fill my insatiable appetite for the written word. But despite that love and gratitude, the weight and feel and scent of a book made of paper brings me pleasure in a way an electronic device can not.

So thank you, kind book-loving stranger for this unexpected extra joy, which I'll relish and then pass along to an unsuspecting stranger myself. If it's not already a thing, then I'm game to make it one.


  1. I love that idea. I saw a house a few neighborhoods over which has a huge wooden box on a stand that reads something like "The Smith's Mini-Library - Take a Book, Leave a Book" and it's filled with books for the taking, no strings attached. I've thought of doing something similar but haven't quite ironed the idea out yet. Anyway, I love books and I loved this post.

    And I hope you're feeling better soon!

  2. Passing along a book - a truly wonderful idea, whether it is a paperback given to a stranger or a treasured (if beaten) hardcover shared with a child. If I ever get back to the post I was going to write today, it is also going to be about books I love. But since my 7 year old daughter asked me to read to her, I thought it would be hypocritical if I refused her. So... happy reading!

  3. That would have been a great gift for me too! I grew up in the misdt of my grandfather's books. However, the habit seems to have dwindled down a lot ever since I got married. I blame blogging for that ;) Love your blog and the way you write :)


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