Books Are Like Trees: They Should Be Everywhere

Reading & Writing


I don’t seem to have a naturally addictive nature, except when it comes to books. They appear around me, fall off me, stick to me, and I leave trails of them wherever I go. I only buy jackets that can accommodate a book. I like pubs that have bookshelves and cafes with books in them, and can’t imagine why London doesn’t copy Iceland (the country with the world’s highest literacy rate – 99.9%) by putting books in public places more.

There are around 5,000 bus stops in the city of Detroit, but around half of them have no place to sit. Kyle Bartell and Charles Molnar wanted to change that and were able to put their plan into action after winning around $1100 (£730) in funding from their local community. ‘Sit on It Detroit’ was born, and today Kyle and Charles build bus stop benches with a difference: they also include a free library inside them. I’d love to kickstart a project along these lines if I could persuade my brother (who’s good with wood and a buzz saw) to get involved. I was thinking of approaching cafes and asking them if they’d like a free stocked bookshelf.

After all, a book came from a tree so shouldn’t we plant more of them? Education and good health are the most important things we can encourage in society. More reading leads to more writing. I’ve lately got in the habit of leaving signed Bryant & May novels and any other books I can spare on benches around London to encourage reading.

NB: At the moment, ‘The Victoria Vanishes’ is discounted to under two quid on Amazon, and has gone straight to no. 5 in the digital Movers & Shakers chart.

12 comments on “Books Are Like Trees: They Should Be Everywhere”

  1. Jo W says:

    Great idea about the books,Admin. If I’ve planned to meet someone in a cafe or pub,I try to remember to take something to read whilst waiting. On the occasions when I’ve forgotten,I’m very pleased to find a shelf of books to thumb through. Failing that a visit to a nearby charity shop can supply the need. That’s why I currently have twenty three books in the ‘to be read’ pile by my armchair. (I’m still hoping to find a copy of Lady don’t fall backwards by D’arcy Sarto) . That chair looks good too. Just needs the addition of a mug/glass shelf!

  2. Vivienne says:

    I have some bookcases that are double stacked: one lot of books in front of the other. And then, some of these are in front of others, so it’s a four book deep scenario. I was given a copy of Susan Hill’s ‘Howard’s End is on the Landing’ for Christmas (still on my to read pile – or one of them) and that about says it all.

  3. Alan Morgan says:

    I’m getting married next year, and to a bookie. Ideally we need to see what duplicates we have and slim down the doubling up of groaning wall and perilous landing. But what if it doesn’t last? Do they do book prenups?

  4. Alan Morgan says:

    Not to a turf accountant I should add. But one that treasures books.

  5. admin says:

    Oh. I did wonder.

  6. Vivienne says:

    Alan I hope you are talking first editions and not getting anxious about duplicates of the Da Vinci Code.

  7. snowy says:

    I was going to offer a copy of ‘Lady Don’t Fall Backwards’ free to a good home, but on checking it seems mice have got into that cupboard and have devoured the last page.*

    [*May contain traces of absolute lies!
    For those that absolutely must have a copy, try:- IBSN 978-0-9927703-4-1]

  8. Mary says:

    I encountered a old fashioned red phone box in Rode Somerset, which was full of books. You could borrow, swap and return. The phone box also contained a defibrillator just in case! I asked the elderly postmaster if people stole the books and he assured me they only borrowed. It’s a warm thought .

  9. Chandon says:

    I once came across a shopping mall in the centre of Melbourne, where one of the shop units had been set up as a free-book centre, where you could donate books and take away those that you wanted to read for free. It had an impressive stock and a good turnover of books. Given the high price of imported new books in Australia, it was very popular, as it encouraged the circulation of books in the community. You would think and hope that some of the more forward thinking coffee shops or pubs in the UK would do something similar.

  10. Alan Morgan says:

    Ha ha, I will remember to do that Vivienne. Though as elderly relatives have now died off I can probably off load multiple copies of Lord of the Rings bought by them for endless birthday presents,they having been told, ‘He likes that sort of Lord of the Rings stuff” when I was a boy.

    The joy of finding a bookish partner is in discovering new authors, wonderful new stories. The irritation is in the wanting to pile ten books upon them at once with the demand to read all these now!

  11. Jo W says:

    Thanks for the info,Snowy. A new book,with last page? I have read another L D F B which was a memoir of Tony Hancock by Joan le Mesurier. It was quite enlightening.

  12. Helen Martin says:

    We have lost the cafe which had a bookshelf of leave or take books and are now looking for another, hoping to establish one actually. The CBC has just completed the annual Canada Reads debate which was themed this year as One Book to Break Barriers. The second book was called “When Everything Looks Like the Movies” which is a YA novel based on the young man who was killed for asking a male friend to be his valentine. It won the Governor General’s award but has been criticized for its language (they had difficulty finding a page they could read on air) but I don’t think the theme is a public problem so things are looking up. After hearing the nature of the language, though, I think I’m glad I’m not planning on reading it any time soon. The book which won is called Rue, a story of Vietnamese immigrants. One debater said it didn’t break any barriers because the family didn’t have enough difficulties settling into Canada. Another said that that was the barrier it broke, that we seem to feel there must be overpowering problems to be overcome to make the immigrant story “worthy”. I like it that we can be heated about books and debate them in public.

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