So, when a friend sent me a mail about Book crossing, I registered at their site. For the uninitiated, the concept behind book crossing is that readers across the world release their favorite books with a book crossing ID (BC-ID), and leave it at some public location – for instance in a park, a café, a hotel, a train or a station. When someone finds that book, (and if they are Book-crossing savvy), they go to the site and register that they have found the book against the book’s BC-ID. So you can track your book as it crosses from one hand to another and at the same time also serendipitously find books left by other BC members. Of course, I was loathe to trust anyone with my books and therefore hoped only to find one left by a more trusting soul. For a few days, I kept logging into the site to check if someone had left a book behind in some part of my city, where I could conveniently go and pick it up. Unfortunately, there are few trusting souls in India, and neither of them had the good fortune to be members of BC and be in Bangalore at the same time! I gave up after a few attempts – after all the most likely fate to be suffered by an unclaimed book in India is that it will find its way into the second hand market or in a waste paper shop.
Recently, I read an interesting an amusing article in NY Times which brought back Book Crossing to my mind. The writer makes several attempts to leave books in conspicuous spots, always hopeful of finding something in return. She finds herself getting cross with Book crossing and struggles to serendipitously find a released copy. It was nice to know that I don’t stand alone in hoping the scales of serendipity to tip in my humble favor.
Book Crossing aside, I have serendipitously found a few books in different places, and they have been good reads. (I hunted for a BC-ID in them but never found it) I found Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose lying on the shelf of a community kitchen, and found Roddy Doyle’s A star called Henry in a Garage takeaway (well, it was like a garage sale where you didn’t have to pay !). In more conventional places like hotels, where a lot of tourists leave their books, I have found and read books like The Accidental (Ali Smith) and PGWoodehouses. (Even some random romances, but I am ashamed of mentioning those J ) It is a delight to stumble upon such books and devour them, especially when you are not carrying enough to read on a journey. My only hope is that people get more generous with their books. But alas, when I checked book crossing this afternoon, I realized that book crossers in Mumbai are no better than Bangalore and there is only one book released in the entire city. On second thoughts, I suppose I should go hunting for that in stead of wasting my time writing this!