Did you know that one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime? The team at the New York City-based book sharing program Books on the Subway does, and that is why they partnered up with The Bucket List author Georgina Clark to encourage readers and subway riders alike to perform self-exams this Breast Cancer Awareness month. Their awareness-raising tools of choice: books, boobs, and flash mobs.
Books on the Subway is a books sharing program on the New York City subway system. Its goal is to inspire everyone to fall in love with reading while making the commute a more friendly, more enjoyable experience. The team at Books on the Subway go out and leave some of their favorite titles on different subway lines, and there are new books every day. The lucky riders who find one are encouraged to pick it up, take it home, read it, and return it to the subway when they're done so another person has the chance to enjoy the book, too. As the website explains, "It's like a public library, but on the New York Subway."
On Oct. 19, the volunteer #bookninjas behind Books on the Subway hit the underground with several copies of Georgia Clark's The Bucket List wrapped in book jackets designed to encourage women to check their breasts. The 10 unique book jackets — or, more accurately, boob jackets — each feature a pair of breasts positioned in a way that, when held, it looks as if the reader's hands are mid self-examination. On the spine is the hashtag #CheckOutMyBoobs, a helpful reminder to readers that October is the perfect time to perform a self-check for any abnormalities or signs of breast cancer.
The idea started when a friend of the organization pointed out that Books on the Subway was only a letter away from "Boobs on the Subway." From there, the idea for a social movement using books was born.
The bookish flash mob rode the subway, breast covers in hand, hoping to call attention to Breast Cancer Awareness month and encourage other riders to perform self-exams. I don't know about you, but if I saw an entire car full of boobies, it would certainly get my attention.
"We are hoping these photos will start a social movement using books as prompts for self-check-ups," says Books on the Subway's Nicole Suder about the #CheckOutMyBoobs project. "Nearly 80% of young women diagnosed with breast cancer find their breast abnormality themselves. And checking your books is as easy as checking your book out of the Library!"
In addition to the #CheckOutMyBoobs awareness campaign, Books on the Subway added illustrated instructions for breast self-examinations on their website. They also added a link to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation where readers can go to donate or learn more about the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
Books on the Subway also runs the #OffTheRailsBookClub, and their September pick was Georgia Clark's The Bucket List. It's a funny and poignant story about a woman who is diagnosed with the BRCA1 gene mutilations (a.k.a. the breast cancer gene). Faced with the tough choice of increasing surveillance or getting a preventative double mastectomy, she decides to make a "boob bucket list" of things she wants to do with her breasts before the potential surgery. It's a witty and emotional novel, and the perfect read for Breast Cancer Awareness month. It's also the perfect choice for the #CheckOutMyBoobs campaign.
To learn more about Books on the Subway's Breast Cancer Awareness campaign or join their book club, check out the website or search the #CheckOutMyBoobs hashtag online. And don't forget: there is no time like the present to check your own breasts.