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Mysterious Stacks Of Books In NYC Are Connecting Strangers From Around The World

30 March 2016

From The Huffington Post:

Could this be a new chapter in the way we interact with one another?

Shaheryar Malik has left stacks of books from his own library at popular destinations all over New York City. He doesn’t stick around to see if anyone takes one of his books, nor does he re-visit his stacks. Instead he leaves a bookmark with his email address printed on it inside each book, in the hopes that he’ll hear back from whomever decided to pick that book up.

. . . .

“If I stuck around or revisited the stacks then it would be very close to how we live ‘digitally,’” Malik told The Huffington Post. “Nowadays we can go back and look at something we posted whenever we want. We can just hang around on social networks for hours [watching a post].”

So, instead he decided to leave the books to “live their own lives.”

“I felt much calmer, relaxed and yet more excited when I walked away from them,” he said.

. . . .

Malik says he’s left eight stacks through out the city at locations like Central Park and Grand Central Station, and aside from one small stack, each consisted of about 45 to 55 books, which he typically transports from his home by car and then from the car with a trolley.

Each stack has a note that reads: “Take a book. Any book. When you finish, email the artist.”

Link to the rest at The Huffington Post and thanks to Randall for the tip.

Books in General

12 Comments to “Mysterious Stacks Of Books In NYC Are Connecting Strangers From Around The World”

  1. The way things are, I’m surprised he hasn’t been fined for littering …

    (or that’s why he doesn’t hang around or revisit the crime scene … 😉 )

  2. I’ve been dropping extra proof copies of my PODs at the book exchange table at my gym. I’m super picky about my PODs, so I go through too many proofs to get the cover exactly right. (Plus CreateSpace tends to have trouble matching its output to the margins specified in my file.)

    So the interior of the proofs are perfect, and the covers look pretty good also – just not perfect. And what am I supposed to do with all those extra proofs after I approve the final proof?

    My husband was the one who suggested the book exchange. So far, my proof copies have been flying off that table, which is fun for me. It seems a better use of proof copies than landfilling them or having them gather dust on my shelves.

  3. I don’t think he’s doing this out of generosity. This is supposed to be some weird piece of touchy-feely performance art. He even tells people to email “the artist.” Apparently such “artists” are getting desperate to come up with something original.

    EDIT: just read the article. A quick look at the photos confirms that this is some sort of bizarre art project.

  4. There are a least a dozen sharing libraries around my city (Victoria BC). Large wooden boxes with gable roofs and weather-tight doors on a sturdy post by the roadside in someone’s front yard. Take a book, leave a book.

    • If you want to read something truly depressing on this topic:


      Passed along without further comment.

      • Ouch. From the ‘you can’t make this sh** up’ department …

      • Ooh! If there was an emoticon for slapping someone silly I’d use it now. I salute Kathryn Usher and her civil disobedience. Good for her. In an updated “Usher III,” she can be a “Willow” Stendahl who leads a revolution against the bureaucrats.

        The observation Jonathan Beggs made, about meeting so many neighbors in the few weeks since he put up the library, than the 30 years he’d been living there — that made me wistful. In my childhood, “lend me some sugar, I am your neighbor” was everyday life.

      • Depressing. Since the article mentioned a similar crackdown on parkway vegetable gardens, I’ll note that people tried to shut those down here as well and the city adjusted the bylaws to make them explicitly legal with the provision that you can’t claim exclusive rights to the produce. If you plant on public land, anyone can harvest. People have also tried to stop the painting of power poles in my neighbourhood, but the little art school that coordinates it has permission from the city and the power company. The power company even gave advice on the best way to prepare the poles for painting. Before any pole is painted the elves stick a flyer through the doors of the nearest houses giving the option of requesting a painting theme or that the pole be left blank.

  5. Book crossing has been doing this for years. You leave a book – in BC parlance – release it into the wild, and let someone else enjoy it. BC has bookplates you can print and place inside the book so the new owner knows it isn’t “lost.” I haven’t left my own books but others have. You can go to the BC site to see how far it’s travelled. http://www.bookcrossing.com/ When I had a brief fling with coffee shop ownership, I registered the cafe as a Book Crossing site. Hardest thing was convincing the customers that the books were actually free.

  6. BookCrossing.com has a way of registering books with a unique ID; you then either give them to someone (controlled release) or leave the somewhere; people who pick them up are encouraged to leave a comment at the website, and then pass them on.

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