What's A Book Fairy? How You Can Get Involved With This Magical Organization
If you’re half as in love with Emma Watson as I am, then chances are you’ve caught an Instagram post or two of the actor secreting around global cities, hiding books on the London tube, Paris sidewalks, or New York City memorials. But the gal book-lovers will forever recognize as Hermione Granger isn’t the only person leaving book surprises around town for unsuspecting readers — she’s hiding reads like Maya Angelou’s Mom & Me & Mom, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale for an organization called The Book Fairies. And you don’t have to have celebrity status to become a Book Fairy yourself.
If you’re one of the lucky few readers who have already stumbled across a green-ribbon-wrapped read, then you’re probably familiar with who The Book Fairies are, and what they do. With the sole mission of helping more books get into the hands of more readers, The Book Fairies are team of global book lovers whose job is simple (and super fun.) Operating in over 100 countries to-date, and in tons of different languages, The Book Fairies leave behind new or used books for people to find: anywhere, and everywhere.
The project was inspired by Books on the Underground, a London-based organization that focused on hiding copies of books on London’s public transportation system. The idea is that a traveler finds the book, takes it with them to read (maybe snapping an Instagram pic or two along the way,) and then returns the book to the London underground for the next reader to find. As more book lovers became involved, the organizers of Books on the Underground started calling their helpers book fairies — and thus, the now-global mission The Book Fairies, was born.
The project gained steam when Watson, founder of the online book club Our Shared Shelf and all-around badass supporter of feminist literature, joined the ranks of The Book Fairies this past March, for International Women’s Day, when she helped hide over 1000 feminist books in public spaces from London to New York City.
But how do you know if the book you’ve found is a genuine Book Fairies book, and not just some novel accidentally left behind by a distracted commuter? That’s simple. Each Book Fairies book will be emblazoned with a green and white Book Fairies sticker. Some contain Book Fairies bookmarks, others personal notes from the Book Fairy who left the title behind, and still more will be tied with a green Book Fairies ribbon. The book should also be somewhere obvious: hidden, but not so hidden that it’s impossible to find.
So now that you know what The Book Fairies are all about, how do you actually become a Book Fairy yourself? Good question. We’ve got some tips below.
1. Gather some books.
Duh. This is the most important step in the work of any Book Fairy. You must have books. New books, used books, books you've been meaning to donate to the library but haven't gotten around to yet. Gather those books. (If you need something to carry all those books in, The Book Fairies have got your covered with this super cute Book Fairies tote.)
2. Order your stickers or Book Fairies bundle.
Each book hidden by The Book Fairies is marked with a Book Fairies signature sticker, ribbon, and/or bookmark. This way, readers know the book is free to take (and also, the stickers act as a friendly reminder to return the book to another hidden location, for the next reader to enjoy, when you're done.)
3. Start hiding books.
This is the fun part. Be sure your books are hidden in an out-of-the-way, but visible location. Parks, public transportation, monuments, museums, coffee shops — there are tons of places all over your city that will make great hiding spots. Just be mindful of the weather, and do your best to make sure the books your dropping are at least somewhat protected from the elements (aka: the bottom of Central Park’s Untermyer Fountain probably isn’t the best hiding spot.)
4. Snap a pic or two, and be sure to share!
5. Consider becoming an 'Official' Book Fairy.
Each participating country needs at least one "official" Book Fairy — someone who is responsible for creating and maintaining each country’s Book Fairy social media account and sharing the pictures of your local Book Fairies doing what they do best: sharing literature. To find out if your country needs an official Book Fairy, head over to The Book Fairies website, where there’s a directory of all official fairies. If not, be sure to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!
6. Participate in Hide A Book Day.
That's right, the art of book hiding now has it's very own day. As part of Goodread's Ten-Year Anniversary Celebration, the social media site for book lovers is teaming up with The Book Fairies for a special Hide a Book Day on Monday, September 18. Be sure to dress up your books in all their Book Fairies glory, and then get hiding! (And reading.)