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My BookCrossing Adventure
   

By Lorna Derksen

woman walking imageTHE 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 soil.

woman at bank machineWith 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 staff notice the discarded book, search through the recorded video, find me out and phone, pleased that they had reunited a reader with 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 is ours, 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 reader can result in sheer delight. In doing the unexpected, the mundane everydayness of life sparkles.

pull-out quotationI 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 about 30% of books registered on the site and left in the wild are found and registered by their new owners. Perhaps my book would never 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. She must 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 it 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 copy.]

*Companion article: Sharing my Book Friends with Strangers

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