Friday, August 26, 2011

Random Act of.....Reading

Somewhere far, far away – far from where I live, at least – in Georgetown, Ontario, Canada, is someone who loves a good book.

And had a need to share.

I had six glorious minutes of peace, quiet and tranquility before my bus was to arrive. In my busy life, as for many, six minutes of peace is nirvana, and where better to find it than along loud, bustling, smoggy, tourist-laden Douglas Street in Victoria, BC.

Along a row of benches I found THE perfect bench to savour the moment. As I approached THE perfect bench, I spotted the object of my many desires and affections.

A book.

I tried to ignore it, but couldn’t. The authors’ name along the spine, Anita Shreve, had me whipping my ponytail in double-take. What a perfect find - an author whose books I enjoy, no less.

Do I pick it up? Should I pick it up?

What if the book was just lost, the owner frantically searching all over town for this treasure? What if it was being used as bait, kidnappers luring me in and waiting around the corner so they can throw me in the back of a truck?

Seeing that no one was running back for the lost book, no kidnappers were in sight, and that four of my six minutes had flown by during all this turmoil, I decided if it was covered in mud and goobers, in the trash it would go. And if I get kidnapped….well…..

With a quick glance around and looking unassuming and not-so-famous, with the stealth of a panther, the sly approach of a fox, and a nonchalant flick of my hair, I grabbed the book and made for the bus stop. With a quick flip through – it was goober free – I stuffed it in my bag before anyone could see. I wasn’t stealing, I found it, but I felt the adrenaline rush of a spy for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

On the bus, and eager to peruse my prize, I flipped it open, and written just inside the front cover was:

*Ann Smith
Georgetown, ON
Enjoy a good read!

*(I changed the name for her protection. Even though she took it upon herself to write her own name, I just felt that for things like freedom of information and privacy, identity-theft (for her sake), stalkers and the like, it might be a good idea.)

It took me a second to realize it wasn’t an inscription, as in gifting a book from one to another. But it WAS a gift to whoever picked it up. She was passing it on, sharing a book, and making her mark.

Who was she? What kind of person is she? Does she always do things like this? Did she like the book?

Where did she buy the book? How far had the book travelled? By plane or by car? Did she drive across Canada this summer, and purchase the book in Eyebrow, Saskatchewan?

What made her want to inscribe the book in such a way, and hope that someone picked it up? Has she done this before?

Intrigued and exhausted (from all that thinking, wondering and spying), I had deep thoughts while the bus jostled me to and fro. I HAD to write my own inscription for the next person – whoever that might be – and do as ‘Ann’ did, and pass it on. Hopefully the next finder of the book will write an inscription, and leave it for someone to find.

Here’s what I wrote:

Found this book in Victoria, BC Canada, by someone who wanted to share a good read. I am passing it on to you, hoping you will read, enjoy, inscribe, and pass it on. Write me and tell me where the book has been. (then my name and email)

As I finally spilled from the now jam-packed bus at the stop by my house, I was giddy with the wonder of the whole concept; the point of a ‘free book’ now forgotten. Kind of like a message in a bottle/chain letter kind of thing, I wondered if ‘Ann’ was on to something here. If she only knew what she set off in my imagination. What started for her as a simple random act of kindness, turned into, hopefully, something much more.

Now I just have to figure out the best place to leave I drive to the airport? Go to the washroom in the Empress Hotel? a restaurant? a bus? What to do, what to do....

Will keep you posted if anyone writes me….

(oh…right…forgot one bit. ‘Rescue’ by Anita Shreve was fantastic. Read it in one day – go get it.)


  1. Fantastic story Lisa. Love that you did that - ever think of sending a note to the author? I bet she'd be thrilled to know. A friend of mine left one of my books on a flight to Hawaii with an inscription to pass it on. Her hope was that it would eventually return to me like those bottles bobbing in the ocean and found fifty years later. So some day when I'm in my dotage...

  2. Great story, Lisa, and I love Anita Shreve too. I know you'll find the perfect place to leave the book. And, by the way, isn't there a group that's organized to do exactly this? - i.e., to send books traveling, and I think the people who find and enjoy them are supposed to go to the website and "report in." I ran across this 2 or 3 years ago, and now I don't remember the name... By the way, I'm currently in the middle of a Jodi Picoult, another author I enjoy (this one is "Vanishing Act"), but I can't leave it for anyone else to find because it's on my e-reader! (Now there's a thought. Imagine finding an entire e-reader full of books!!)

  3. Thank you for reading, Ryshia - yes, that's a great idea, about letting the author know! Will be interesting to see what happens, for sure! Hope your book finds its way back to you! Happy Reading! Lisa

  4. Susan - Wow! Thank you for the insight on the 'traveling book' group...will look into that! Jodi Picoult is also a favorite of mine...but I still like the good old ink-and-paper copies. Thank you for reading and for sharing! Have a good last few weeks of summer...Lisa

  5. What a fantastic idea! And what a great way to spread the word about your favourite authors. Now I'm off to look up Anita Shreve (new to me). Thanks, Lisa!

  6. I loved your story. ...I loved all your "what ifs" and the sheer delight you shared of finding a treasured book. Now I have to find a book by Anita Shreve as well.

  7. Thank you, Ros! Yes, I have read many of Anita Shreve's of my faves, she is. It was part of the reason I was so excited! Thank you for reading! Lisa

  8. Hi Jo-Ann! Thank you for stopping by and reading....yes, go find her books - she is one of my faves! Yes, the constant 'what ifs' that are always rattling around in my brain are exhausting! Lisa

  9. What a great story. I love Anita Shreve too so it would be a real find. I love the idea of a book being passed around like a message in a bottle

  10. Hi Pat - yes, I am a big fan of Anita Shreve. I hope the book finds its way afar! Thank you for reading! Lisa