Books on a train

Chongqing book­seller in­spired by English ac­tress helps rid­ers read

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By TANYINGZI in Chongqing tanyingzi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

A pas­sen­ger reads one of 40 books placed in­side the light-rail sys­tem in Chongqing by author and book­store owner Jiang Lin.

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