As part of her fight for global gender quality, the British actress is using strategically-placed books to make a difference.
If you’re in a London subway station and see a random book, pick it up! It may contain a secret message from Emma Watson. The acclaimed actress has been distributing copies of books with hand-written messages inside, encouraging people to read them, share thoughts on Goodreads, and hide the books again for someone else to find.
Watson works with UN Women, advocating for worldwide gender equality. As part of her work, she started a book club called ‘Our Shared Shelf,’ dedicated to reading feminist texts, such as Gloria Steinem’s “My Life on the Road,” Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple,” and Maya Angelou’s “Mom & Me & Mom.”The group teamed up with the UK’s Books on the Underground, which describes itself as “books travelling around the London Underground network waiting to be read. Think of us as your local library, but without the late fees.” Lucky finders would discover the following message inside the books handed out by Watson:
This week Watson helped distribute 100 copies of Angelou’s book, November’s pick. As she writes on Our Shared Shelf’s Goodreads page, she is on a mission to learn as much as possible about gender equality and hopes others will join this important conversation, too:
“As part of my work with UN Women, I have started reading as many books and essays about equality as I can get my hands on. There is so much amazing stuff out there! Funny, inspiring, sad, thought-provoking, empowering! I’ve been discovering so much that, at times, I’ve felt like my head was about to explode… I decided to start a Feminist book club, as I want to share what I’m learning and hear your thoughts too.”
She posted a video of herself on Instagram, caught in the act of hiding a book.
It’s an innovative idea to kickstart important conversations about feminism, using a fun and attractive medium – paperbacks – that have enduring appeal to all booklovers. The only problem is, I doubt many people will relinquish their hand-written messages from Watson. It’s the kind of thing that even I would want to leave on my bookshelf for bragging rights. (Maybe I’d just write my own hand-written message in a fresh copy, but somehow I don’t think that would make news headlines.)