How To Be a Good Book Fairy

Women reading books at B&N

It’s safe to say most books are recommended to us by someone else—a friend, a mom, a blog. But half the time we don’t actually read those suggestions unless they’re put directly into our hands. So, beyond refusing to shut up about it at parties, bars, and other places where people stand still long enough for you to start talking, how do you make sure friends and strangers will actually read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay? If you’ve had enough of this and are ready to take things a little farther, you’re ready to become a Good Book Fairy, bestowing books on the people whether they like it or not. So how do you start?

Leave books on seats. People are pretty good about checking their chair for gross things before they sit, so you’re sure to have a 100% pickup rate. Lovingly place books with appropriate notes on subway trains, coffee shop chairs, park benches, or couches in assisted living facilities. “Do you like dark historical fiction about the Civil War? Then The Amalgamation Polka is the book for you. Take it, read it, and pass it on!”

The air drop. I don’t mean dropping books off a balcony onto people, I mean having books shipped right to their houses so they have a surprise package to open! People love to open packages almost as much as they love not having to look for that good book you suggested.

Surprise download. If your grandmother is technologically challenged, but you know she would love to read Wolf Hall, loan her your ereader with the book all cued up and ready to go.

Return those library books. Your roommate seems not to realize that she can return books to the library on or even before their due date, so help her out! Take that bag full of overdue books that’s been sitting by the door for two weeks and return them for her. This way you let others get their hands on the books, and save your roomie at least $3.35. That’s a lot of ramen.

Go guerrilla librarian. Set up a “Take One” Leave One” library in a park or a bar. Take an old book shelf (or something else nicer than a box) and fill it with secondhand books from your shelves. Encourage people to leave an old book when they take a new one for free!

Book tips. Give your waiter a great book instead of a tip! Give the gift of knowledge and reading pleasure! Actually, never mind, this is a terrible idea. Leave a book AND a tip.

Impromptu handoff. If you finish reading your book in a public place, hand it off to the next person who catches your eye—assuming they seem cool with it and that you can actually part with the book. I’ve been known hug books for a little while after I finish them, and then never let anyone borrow them without some sort of deposit, like a really nice Tupperware or a monthly metro card. But that’s not in the nature of a Good Book Fairy!

How will you be a Good Book Fairy?

  • Amy Elizabeth Anderson

    @saraJonsson The last sentence of the last paragraph has a typo.

    “But that’s not in the nature of a Gook Book Fairy!”

    • Melissa Albert

      Whoops, blame the editor! Fixed, thanks for the catch.

      • Amy Elizabeth Anderson

        No problem. I was hoping to not do it publicly, as it feels rude. But, I thought fast was the lesser of two evils (fast & public vs. mass circulation & public). Sorry for the call out.