By Lorna Derksen
THE SNOW CRUNCHED beneath my boots as I tracked my way to the local
bank. This was not the average trip to my financial institution.
True, I had a cheque to deposit, but my mission was far more clandestine
than daily banking. In my hand I held not my cheque book but a
novel: Empire Falls by Richard Russo. I held the novel tightly,
knowing it held the purpose of my jaunt. I was on my first BookCrossing
mission. My goal: to anonymously leave a book in the wild.
A few days earlier my friend Lyle intrigued
me with a post about a new book-focused website. Called BookCrossing.com,
the site organizes random acts of literary kindness that can be
tracked from anywhere a reader can find an Internet hook up. As
I explored the website, seeing that thousands of people around
the world were passing on books they loved to unsuspecting discoverers,
my imagination was hooked. What book would I choose to leave? Where
would I leave it? How long would it be until my book was found?
Whose life would it affect?
New Year’s Day dawned with the crisp breeze of opportunity.
I was ready for my first subversive action of the year. I signed
up on BookCrossing.com under the pseudonym, Poppyseed, registered
my chosen novel’s name and description, decided on the drop-off
location and immediately recorded the book as being dropped off
at the bank. Now I had to do it. I was accountable to the thousands
of fellow BookCrossers who had braved the wild before me, leaving
their books to find new homes like seeds scattered on untilled
With a BookCrossing.com book registration marker securely taped
onto page one, my book was ready to be released as I entered
the bank. The instant teller was free. I nervously punched
in the keys
for the deposit hoping another customer wouldn’t be waiting
behind me, stopping my clean getaway with a polite, “Excuse
me, I believe you forgot your book on the ledge.” Would
I deny it was my book, or would I explain that I wanted to leave
my book behind, their eyes narrowing in an attempt to understand
this craziness? What about the remote cameras? Would the bank
notice the discarded book, search through the recorded video,
find me out and phone, pleased that they had reunited a reader
her book? This was clearly a counter-cultural activity.
We are not expected to leave items that we value for whomever
might come along to help themselves. We are to protect what
guard it, care for it and display it on shelves. This is why
such a simple act as gifting an enjoyable book to an unmet
result in sheer delight. In doing the unexpected, the mundane
everydayness of life sparkles.
I arrived home elated by my successful drop-off. How long would
I wait for my book to be found…days, months, a year? In
its two years of operation, BookCrossing.com calculates that
30% of books registered on the site and left in the wild are
found and registered by their new owners. Perhaps my book would
be found. That was OK. My subversive act of kindness was treasure
enough for this mission.
However, to my surprise, within an hour of leaving Empire Falls to
fend for itself, I received an e-mail that its new owner had
already found it! A fellow BookCrosser had gone hunting on
the site and noticed a drop-off location close to her home.
have rushed to the bank and nabbed the book, beginning her
own BookCrossing adventure.
I’m planning on leaving another book in the wild some day
soon. Maybe this one will roam the city streets for months or
leave urban life altogether to travel down prairie roads. Wherever
travels it takes with it a sparkle of the simple fun of passing
on a good read to the good fortune of fate.
[Download printer friendly
*Companion article: Sharing
my Book Friends with Strangers