Brought to book! June 5, 2009Posted by Jane Matthews in acts of kindness.
Tags: bookcrossing, Kindness, Louise Hay, Waterstone's, You Can Heal Your Life
Let me explain. I’ve heard of this trend for leaving books in public places so that others can enjoy them. So I thought today I’d do that: choose a book that means a great deal to me and set it free.
Now the book-lovers among you will know that giving away a favourite book is the equivalent of donating your organs to medical science while you’re still alive and using them. Which might seriously have compromised my act of kindness (I’m not sure buying a second copy to give away is quite in the spirit of this experiment which I want to test my limits) – except for the fact that I already have TWO copies of the book that changed my life.
Actually, there’s more than one book that changed my life: Susan Jeffers Feel the fear and do it anyway was a revelation and before that The Women’s Room by Marilyn French and, curiously, long, long before fear and feminism, the Ladybird book of David Livingstone, which planted in my 7-year-old imagination a dream of visiting Africa. And since it was in Africa that I met my husband and went on to have two children, that small book costing 2/6 must have altered the course of my life more than any other.
Still, the most recent titleholder is Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, which taught me all about taking responsibility for my own life and the thoughts and beliefs that create it. It also taught me about gratitude and forgiveness and living in the moment and a zillion other things, which you’ll need to read the book yourself to find out about. Or come on one of my workshops.
Back to the present and making a present of the book: I wrote a message on a card to whoever it is that will pick up the book, and slipped it inside the front: If you have picked this up because the title struck a chord with you then please accept this book as a gift from me. I hope it will help change the way you see and live your life as it did for me.
I had no definite plan about where to leave it. In true Louise Hay-style I decided just to trust the right spot would show up. And sure enough, as I headed back to the car after an urgent mission buying tennis balls for my son (oh, there are so many ways in which my life was changed by that Ladybird book!) I passed Waterstone’s and thought of the self help section upstairs. Where better for my battered old book to find someone who really needs it?
Weirdly, trying to put something on the shelves felt like shoplifting, checking the walls for CCTV and the gangways for Waterstone’s staff. All the while expecting to feel a hand on my collar and someone accusing me of defrauding the shop.
I suppose in a way I was. Waterstone’s sell the book, after all, so I was preventing someone spending the £9.99 cover price with them.
Except that life being the wonderfully serendipitous thing it is, I’m pretty certain whoever picks the book up wouldn’t necessarily have even known they needed it until the – distinctly 1980s glamrock – front cover shouted at them PICK ME UP!
And except that, as I carefully placed my book at eye level in the centre of the shelf, another book, costing exactly £9.99, that I didn’t necessarily know I needed, had the cheek to shout at me. Reader, what could I do? I bought it.
What goes around, comes around, as I keep discovering.
And I couldn’t resist sharing this with you:
how the bookshops must have struggled with what to call this burgeoning market for true stories of abuse, survival and redemption.
I’m very tempted to plot a guerilla action in which every single title is replaced by a Ladybird book…