Free Books for Commuters

readers choice photo

All images from Choose What You Read

Every day commuters in London are hit with free newspapers; one in the morning and two at night. By the end of the day the subway looks like a cyclone has hit and everyone's mind is filled with rubbish about celebrities and murders.

Two friends got fed up and started a group called "Choose What you Read." With a little help from their mates they decided to hand out free books once a month at various subway stations, yelling "free books" to catch people's attention.

choose what

The group takes their donated books to subway stations around central London. They set up shop next to the free newspaper stand and people come round. Some just grab a book, others look carefully, others defend the free papers. They don't mind; they just want people to make a choice, not be mindless about what they are doing.

There is a purple logo on the book's jacket and a sticker where the donor and readers can write their name. People are asked to return the books when finished, either at a hand out box the next month or at a drop-off at a cinema. It is circulation of the books that is important, not just hand-outs.

books free photo

Three to four tonnes of free papers are dumped in this city every day. Only a small amount is ever recycled. They have become a real blight. One group last year collected all of the papers left behind in just one day. They collected 1,500 and dumped them in Trafalgar Square as a symbol before they were sent off to be recycled. Another group collected thousands and made a newspaper house out of them as a form of awareness raising.

The experience has empowered its creator, Claire Wilson. She says "Starting Choose What You Read has changed my outlook. I've realised it's possible to do something about things that bother you. After the first hand-out we were practically high on feeling we'd changed the world. But even though we might not have done that, if we've just got 20 people to change their minds about taking the free papers, that's already a great thing to have done." Choose What You Read Via : Financial Times
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