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Janna is a staff writer for The Hudsucker. Born and raised in a small Ontario town, she made her move to Toronto for university and immediately fell in love with the excitement and pace of the big city. She holds an Honors Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production from York University, specializing in editing and screenwriting. She currently works as an assistant editor for a television production company. Janna loves stories told in all mediums, especially film, and takes herself to the movies as much as she possibly can. She can generally be found taking a Zumba class, exploring some of Toronto’s lesser-known gems, or relaxing with her fluffy feline roommate.

BookCrossing: Traveling Books Across the World

“I’m free! I’m not lost!”

The words catch my eye immediately. I’m in the middle of Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market on a bustling Wednesday at lunch time, crowds of people hurrying past me in every direction. No one else’s eyes fall on the red hardcover book with the yellow sticky note on the cover, proudly proclaiming the above words. The only one to notice is me.

Curious, I pick up the book… and that’s how BookCrossing was discovered.

BookCrossing is an online program that tracks books released and shared with the world. Based out of the United States and begun by founders Ron & Kaori Hornbaker and Bruce & Heather Pederson, the program has been running since 2001. Book lovers can sign up for the website, print some bookplate labels explaining the program, set their favorite books free into the world, and track their journey online. The website currently has almost 1.5 million members and has sent over 11 million books travelling throughout 132 countries. All over the world, people are leaving their favorite books in coffee shops, malls, and other public spaces for an unsuspecting book lover to find. And they are all outfitted with sticky notes, bookplates, and stickers explaining the BookCrossing program… exactly like the book I stumbled across that afternoon in downtown Toronto.

Find a book, bring it home, give it a read, and leave it somewhere else for another person to find. A pretty simple concept, and one that no doubt many book lovers have put into practice before. The benefit of BookCrossing, really, is the community aspect that the website provides. Not only can you log in and track any books you have sent out into the wild—each book is registered with a BookCrossing ID number to allow people who find the books to report their progress—but there is an entire online community for the site’s members. It has everything from member profiles and a forum to information about BookCrossing conventions and “hunting” pages to help members track down books that can be found near them. Instead of just leaving a beloved book out in public and hoping that someone will pick it up and love it, now members can know that their book has been found, read, and passed on to another reader.

And as for the book I picked up on a whim? It was a light, fun little mystery called Fudge Cupcake Murder, the fifth in a female detective series by author Hannah Swenson. It was left in the St. Lawrence Market by BookCrossing user HoserLauren as a memorial to her mother, AceofHearts, an avid BookCrossing member who passed from breast cancer in September 2013. I feel honored to have stumbled across a book with such a meaningful back story, and will be releasing it out into the wild again soon for someone else to enjoy.

Reading is such a solitary hobby, and given that fact, it’s heart-warming to see a thriving worldwide community eager to discuss and share the books they love with those around them. For people with a keen eye, a sense of curiosity, and a love of reading, stumbling across a BookCrossing book in the wild can open up a world of possibility and bring a new hobby stumbling into their laps. Ever since that day in Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market, BookCrossing has certainly has done so for me.

To learn more about BookCrossing and to start participating with your own favorite books, check out their website.

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2 Comments on “BookCrossing: Traveling Books Across the World”

  1. aubreyleaman September 4, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    I love this idea so much!! Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. Alexander M Zoltai September 6, 2015 at 11:43 am #

    Reblogged this on Notes from An Alien and commented:
    Today’s Re-Blog reminds me of a post I did 4 years ago :-)

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