Book nerds in one Romanian city got the best promotion ever this summer. In Cluj-Napoca, bus passengers had their fares waived if they read books on their commute. The promotion, which ran from June 4-7, was the brainchild of Victor Miron, who petitioned the city's mayor, Emil Boc, to execute the program in order to encourage citizens to treat their daily commutes as short periods of self-improvement.
The benefits of reading — and reading paper books in particular — are well-documented. It's probably the only hobby that improves memory, sleep quality, information processing, and even empathy. Because frequent use of e-readers and other electronic devices causes eye-strain and sleep disruption, which can lead to a whole host of other health problems, Miron's program in Cluj-Napoca could be considered a public health initiative.
Books can improve more than just your physical health, though; reading makes your social life better. Think about it: book nerds always have an answer to that age-old question, "Read any good books lately?" And some research even shows that single people prefer partners who read. No, really, it's true! If you don't believe reading makes you more attractive to potential partners, look no further than the plethora of bookish Instagram accounts, such as Hot Dudes Reading and BVL. I've included a couple of their posts below, but brace yourselves: these book nerds are mad sexy.
If you're like me, and would love to see stateside readers get free public transportation, you'd better be in for the long-haul. Miron's proposal to Boc took a full year to come to fruition, and it lasted less than a week. Implementing a permanent read-to-ride program would take a great deal of time and effort, but I think almost anything that will encourage more people to read is worth it in the end.