Sunday, 5 July 2015

Travels with books

Just a few book things I've spotted on my travels.   

This little library in Luang Prabang, Laos, also provides book for outlying villages, including those serviced by Laos' two library boats. This is not a luxury but a necessity as many small villages are poor and have no books even in the schools. Visitors can support The Language Project in Laos by buying books for the library, but you can still support them from home The Language Project.

Book crossing has been going on for years under the name of swapping books, but that was generally with people you met face to face. On my travels overland to India so many years ago, we had to travel light (rucksacks were the order of the day; wheeled suitcases didn't exist) and so the books we took were exchanged along the way with other travellers. Now Bookcrossing has become established and it is the books which travel. You release books in the wild and they are captured by other readers and then as often as not released again and so on. It has become especially popular in other countries and I saw this Bookcrossing arch in Wroclaw Station in Poland recently.

Wherever I go if I spot a bookshop I have a look around, even if I can't read the titles because of the language difference. I spot many familiar author names but very often have to guess the titles because covers are often different when a title is published for the overseas market. This bookshop cat lives in a shop in Istanbul. He had plenty of books to sit on and there were lots of customers too to make a bit of a fuss of him.

Not all bookshops have much to sell. This bookshop in Santiago in Cuba back in 2008 had only a few tattered second-hand books for sale,
as books were a relatively rare commodity, with only books approved by Fidel Castro's regime deemed fit for reading. How many of this bookshops were contraband, I don't know, but tourists would often leave books they had brought. I only wished I had some I could offer but coming  upon this shop by accident I had none with me. Things have changed for the better since then and I wonder if this little shop still exists.

Sometimes, even second-hand books are hard to come by and this school for Tuareg children in Timbuktu in 2007 had very few. Those that they did have were for the older children while the younger ones learnt from a blackboard. The desks in this class were for the middle grade children who also had blackboard slates whilst the smallest sat in the sand and took it in turns to use the large board. Chalk was as precious as books. Wren Miller saw much the same picture and as a result set up Send a Book to Mali.


Joanna said...

What a wonderful post, Lindsay, and fantastic pictures. I love the thought of releasing books into the wild. And those children sitting in the sand are captivating. xx

Guernsey Girl said...

I hope everyone who reads this, Lindsay, will never take a book for granted again! Really interesting pot.