Wandering Books In georgia

Article published on April 18, 2014
Article published on April 18, 2014

An exciting literary initiative is sweeping through Georgia. You leave a book in a public place with a message. Someone finds it, reads it, then sets it free again.

“Hello, I am a wan­der­ing book, it was hard to leave my owner, but I know that you need me too. Don’t leave me here, let’s go to­gether. Read me, and then set me free…”

“Hello my friend, I pre­ferred to go out rather than to stay at home and get dust-cov­ered”

“My owner let me out to travel. I want to travel a lot, so after you have fin­ished read­ing, please let me go.”

These are the mes­sages writ­ten the on the in­side cov­ers of books in Geor­gia. Hun­dreds of books are wan­der­ing the streets. You can find them any­where: on benches, at bus stops, on the stair­cases, on the pave­ments, and the win­dow ledges…

A thrilling game with sim­ple rules

If some­one wants to pass his book along to an­other reader, he or she writes a short note on the front page, jot­ting down the date and the name of the place where the book was left. And the jour­ney be­gins…

Those wan­der­ing books are like peo­ple, they have their own fate. One day they may be in Tbil­isi, only to reap­pear months later in other parts of Geor­gia. They can even cross bor­ders and travel the world, too. Imag­ine you are com­ing home, tired, wasted and sud­denly you find “The Catcher in the Rye” sit­ting on your doorstep. That would def­i­nitely bring a smile to your face. Or maybe you are just wait­ing for the bus. You are bored, there is noth­ing in­ter­est­ing to do, then bingo!  You see a book that you’ve al­ways wanted to buy and you just start read­ing.

Who started this game?

Well, here's the story:

One day, the Geor­gian writer Jaba Zar­qua was think­ing about how to in­tro­duce his lat­est book “The Reader Must Die” to the pub­lic. He wanted to find an easy and ef­fec­tive way to reach out to new read­ers. That was when he came up with the idea of the wan­der­ing books.

“Peo­ple found out that it is easy to do pos­i­tive things. If this idea spreads all over the town, we may snatch our minds from politi­cians’ hands and make them free with the help of the books. Let’s block­ade our coun­try with cul­ture!” says Jaba Zar­qua.

Many peo­ple around the world al­ready know BookCross­ing, the act of giv­ing a book a unique iden­tity as the book is passed from reader to reader. As Mr. Zar­qua says, wan­der­ing books are dif­fer­ent: “Book Cross­ing needs web-in­ter­ac­tion, it’s strictly struc­tural­ized and it gives pos­si­bil­i­ties to record exact sta­tis­tics. Wan­der­ing books don’t nec­es­sar­ily need web-in­ter­ac­tion. It is more or less “chaotic” and it doesn’t carry out mon­i­tor­ing for sta­tis­tics”.

About a month ago, Jaba Zar­qua and his friends cre­ated a Face­book page for “Wan­der­ing Books”. Now it has 45, 635  likes. Peo­ple post pic­tures of the books they are going to “aban­don” in the city streets and let them travel, while oth­ers up­load the pic­tures of the books they’ve found.

Here is what one of the lucky read­ers- Lika Bagashvili- wrote on Face­book: “I have been search­ing for these days, I some­how wanted to find a book by Schmitt and as it turned out, I re­ally found his “M. Ibrahim and the Flow­ers of the Koran”.  I al­most be­came breath­less… One lovely lit­tle girl left it. I want to thank her… I want the book to stay with me for one night and I will let it go to­mor­row.”

The great­est books of world lit­er­a­ture are wan­der­ing the streets of Geor­gia. Be care­ful, you may find one. Keep in mind what George R.R. Mar­tin once said:  “A mind needs books as a sword needs a whet­stone, if it is to keep its edge”.