Last week I sneaked Paige Toon's "The Last Piece of My Heart" with me on a dog walk over at Popes Meadow in Binfield to finish the last few pages whilst the dog frolicked around and finish it I did indeed do! I really enjoyed it and thought it was a good summer read and one I would happily share and recommend. It was a beautiful story of love and loss, happiness and soul searching. I might pretend otherwise but I am a hopeless romantic!
However the thing about sharing books is people aren't always good at returning them, I count myself in this! That's not such a bad thing as I have (or rather had) books on my shelves that I have read once (some I have not read at all) and then I don't look at them again. One thing I do enjoy is recommending authors and books.
As I walked across the field passing a bench that had a heart scored into it I thought that this would be the ideal place to leave the book and hope that someone would pick it up, read the blurb and feel compelled to read it, loving it as much as I did and then too wanting to share. Thus an idea was born. It's nothing new, infact people have been leaving gifts of flowers, books, etc for random strangers in a pay it forward manner for ages but I just thought I could share my love of books and encourage people to pick up a book.
I wandered back to the car chuckling to myself and wondering if anyone would find it and read it, so I decided to post on Binfield Gossip Girls. Then the fun started! Within hours people had commented and said they had seen the book, so I added some more! Then more people commented and wanted to get involved, so I started a Facebook page called Books on Benches.
One of the questions was what if it rains? Ahhhhh I had thought of this, when the weather turns I have some IKEA feedbags! I spoke to Fiona of Crema and Michelle of Brown Bear Bakery and they said YES YES YES, leave some books and we can do book swap and drop. We're having lovely weather at the moment so the rain isn't an issue, so people are still out leaving books!
Just for fun I phoned BBC Radio Berkshire and said what I had done and that if anyone fancied a book swap then head to Popes Meadow where I had left books on benches. They then phoned me and said yes love it, let's do something on Monday morning! OK then! Then I had another call to say BBC South Today would like to do a piece on it, could I get to Popes Meadow and meet Joe Campbell? Ok then!
The really lovely thing is that people are getting involved - strangers, friends, people I've not yet met and they're not only taking books but they're leaving books too. It's a feel good summer thing and it's introducing people to books and authors that they might otherwise not pick up. I had an email from someone I know through dog walking and she said she had found the book with my business card inside, read the blurb and decided she would read and return. Another person said she would take a book with her to Dinton. It's catching and what's more it's a big fat happy gesture of sharing.
This morning I met up with Bridgitte from BBC Berkshire and we chatted about books on benches and reading, then we headed over to Crema (yes I was the one who spilt the coffee) and chatted some more with Fiona and Sydney. You can listen to it here!
As I said it's nothing new and it's just for fun, but if you see a book on a bench then pick it up and read it, when you've read it then pop it back to a bench or Crema in Binfield or Brown Bear Bakery in Wokingham.
Some of the books are current new reads, some are older but it might just encourage people to If you're on Twitter or Instagram then do add in #booksonbenches and we will see it and LOVE IT! Also do like the FB page! More venues are in the discussion stage so if you would like to take part with a books on benches and know just the spot then do let me know, you can comment on this blog post or drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.