And What do We do…?
I’m a minimalist kind of girl when it comes to my bookshelves. I devour a novel, and then, unless it’s steeped in positive affirmations which I am unable to commit to memory the first time round, off it goes to the charity shop – or my mum’s ever-growing bedside To Be Read pile.
There are just too many books out there to read and I don’t live in a library!
But I do live in Spain, the Costa del Sol to be precise. And something very sad happens to our secondhand books here in Andalucia, the home of great artists and writers: they wither and wilt, gathering dust on shelves (the novels that is… not the creatives). In fact, my local charity shop even has duplicates of certain commercial titles! Something had to give, something needed to change. These books, these talented authors, deserved a brand new lease of life…
And then along came the fabulous initiative that is The Book Fairies. The project set up by Cordelia Oxley, has grown from strength to strength this year with more than 100 countries involved – each recognised as its own mini Book Fairy enterprise across the various social media platforms. Collectively, Book Fairies sticker and ribbon up books, hide them in imaginative places and then leave them for the next person to enjoy… in the hope that they will do the same, that the ripple effect will morph into a Mexican wave of bookish fun.
I mean think about it: wouldn’t it just feel like fate if you ‘happened upon’ a copy of The Celestine Prophecy in a cocktail bar… or perhaps one of The Handmaid’s Tales dotted around Parisian landmarks by Emma Watson (oh yes, Emma is involved as well!)… or a fresh new voice in fiction (no… I’m not referring to my debut novel, honest) that’s waiting for you on a park bench.
When we are ‘gifted’ with a book, we are far more likely to read it, then to feel inspired and ‘goosebumpy’ enough to do the same and pay the kindness forward by passing the book on to the next person – or hiding it with a flutter of our own fairy wings. In a world full of negativity, it’s a simple way to keep the embers of positivity burning. It’s also a fabulous way to encourage literacy, among children and adults alike.
And so, once I had run out of titles to recycle from my own shelves, I headed to said charity shop… and they even offered to pay me for taking the books off them! Of course, I declined, because that kind of defeats the object. But I did walk away with a huge stash of books to give a new life to, for just a couple of Euros. And that felt really good!
But the best thing of all has been getting my children (and our visitors involved). We have had, and continue to have, an absolute barrel of laughs along the way, thinking up funny/slightly crazy/interesting and obscure ‘hiding’ places for our book drops. And then it’s always an added bonus when you get chased down the street because people think you have accidentally left something behind… as well as watching crafty kids pilfer green ribbons for their hair… as well as wondering if you can get away without somebody spotting you.
I can’t deny that as an author myself (an author whose debut novel, ‘Oh! What a Pavlova’ launches this October!), I am not drawn to a few Book Fairy drops for my own PR purposes. Of course I am… I might live in Spain, but my family live close to Glastonbury, the town where much of my book is set. Oh, the fun and games they are going to have dropping books on Glastonbury Tor and all the other tourist hot spots for me!
More than that though, being a Book Fairy is turning into a way of life. We go out somewhere – as mundane as the supermarket, as exciting as a party, we take a book with us, we brighten up somebody’s day, we have a giggle and we help another writer escape from those dusty bookshelves of the charity shop.
What could be better?