“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”.