05/15/2015

Chance encounters

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Imagine taking a small piece of your heart, setting it down somewhere — anywhere — and allowing a stranger to peruse its contents, in the hopes that he or she sees life a little differently. It seems like a strange act, almost silly, but this is exactly what The Book Project Manila is doing, and it looks like many other bookworms are following suit.

The Book Project Manila is a crowdsourced booksharing project that has been garnering notable attention on social media. The rules, which can be found on their Tumblr (http://thebookprojectmanila.tumblr.com/), are simple: Choose a book you’re comfortable saying goodbye to, place a little note between its pages, and leave it in a public place. In the note, there should be the address to the project’s blog, and a short message on what you want to say to whatever stranger ends up picking up your book. Finally, take a photo of the book in the place you left it and either upload it to your Instagram with the hashtag #thebookprojectmanila, submit it to the project’s Tumblr, or email your submission to thebookprojectmanila@gmail.com.

The way The Book Project Manila works, it’s almost like leaving painted Easter eggs in a garden, or philosophical quotes in bathroom stalls. You might just end up putting a smile on someone’s face, and enriching their lives just a little by offering a book you love to the hands of chance.

Jacqueline Rufener, The Book Project Manila’s project head, puts it this way: life is hard and boring enough as it is. It doesn’t hurt to try to make it a bit more magical by leaving a book for a stranger to pick up. Whether you’re introducing to your lucky passerby the strange worlds of Lewis Carrol, the distant futures of Ray Bradbury, or the soft sentiments of Mary Oliver, you’ll be providing a fellow human being a much-needed break from the occasional difficulties of reality —the kinds of difficulties we all encounter. You might even end up encouraging a new habit. “There have been concrete instances where people expressed that The Book Project had inspired them to read more or start reading again,” says Rufener.

So go ahead and sift through your little library, pick out something that changed you, and leave it where you wanna leave it — in a café, on the hood of a parked car, by the steps of a fire escape, what have you. It’s chance encounters like these that leave us changed, and a little bit better, and this is something that The Book Project Manila is more than eager to prove.

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