Books on a train
Chongqing bookseller inspired by English actress helps riders read
A bookseller in Chongqing municipality has been leaving novels on trains and at stations to inspire more commuters to read, after seeing British actress Emma Watson take part in a similar project in London.
Author and bookstore owner Jiang Lin, 29, randomly placed 40 works along the city’s light-rail system on Sunday.
Those who find a book can read it in public or take it home, but they are encouraged to leave it again on public transportation once they have finished with it, Jiang said.
“I considered the needs of commuters,” he said. “I hope strangers can feel comforted by the books and feel connected with other readers.”
All 40 books were chosen from Jiang’s store, Razor’s Edge Book Club, which he opened in the summer, and included fiction and nonfiction, with topics ranging from art and social sciences to philosophy and history.
Jiang’s Books on the Chongqing Light Rail project follows the same model as Books on the Underground, which was started in 2012 and sees “book fairies” leave works on London Tube trains and at stations.
Readers are encouraged to share their views on the books they find on social media.
It was revealed on Nov 1 that Watson, whois best-known for the Harry Potter movie series, is a book fairy.
“After I read the news about her leaving books on the London Tube, I was so inspired that I immediately decided to do something over the weekend,” Jiang said.
However, his decision was so spontaneous that he had no time to make the stickers that are usually placed on each book to identify them as part of the project. Instead, he put a note on the fly page to introduce the concept.
To his surprise, one of his friends was among those who found his books and posted a picture on WeChat Moments, a social media function on the instant-messaging app.
Jiang said more than 20 people have since come onboard and are now working on a more detailed plan to spread the love of reading.
“First, we need the support of Chongqing Light Rail Co to ensure the books stay there,” he said, adding that while the project only covers his city, he is willing to offer advice to others looking to launch similar projects in other Chinese cities.
“I believe there are many book lovers like me in China, and this project will be welcomed across the country.”
Although increasing numbers of people read on digital devices, books have not totally gone out of fashion. In April, a report by the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication found that Chinese read an average of 4.58 books last year, up slightly from 4.56 in 2014.
A passenger reads one of 40 books placed inside the light-rail system in Chongqing by author and bookstore owner Jiang Lin.