How to Be a Book Fairy

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William Butler Yeats once wrote that “no matter what one doubts, one never doubts the fairies.” After all, fairies, as he quoted a man saying, “stand to reason.” Needless to say, this has become a controversial belief in our 21st century world. However, there is a kind of fairy whose existence is provable and indisputable: the book fairy.

What is a book fairy, you ask? Well, according to the book fairies themselves, it is:

A fearless individual dedicated to spreading happiness and joy through the sharing of incredible stories. Brave, creative, modest, big hearted.

@bookfairiesworldwide

In more concrete, albeit less charming, terms: a book fairy is a person who leaves books in public places for others to find. Ideally, these books should be read, then released back into the wild. The Book Fairies launched in March 2017, and less than five years later, there are over 9000 fairies in over 100 countries.

But, I hear you thinking, how can I become a book fairy? Glad you asked!

Buy Some Book Fairies Stickers

Of course, you can simply leave a book somewhere with a note inside. But that wouldn’t make you a book fairy (it would make you a very generous stranger though!). To be a book fairy, you need the badge, so to speak: stickers that read “Take this book, read it, and it leave it for the next person to enjoy.” You don’t need to get the English version: there are also stickers in French, Italian, Spanish, and more.

Choose Which of Your Books You’ll Sprinkle Outside, a la Bookish Fairy Dust

You could do isolated drop-offs: stick the sticker on the outside of the last book you read, and hide it in the park, for example. Or, if you’re dramatic like me, and “go big or go home” is your life motto, you can plan a more concentrated attack: go over your shelves, choose some books you would love to share with others, and start a list. Better yet, start an Excel spreadsheet! (I already said I’m dramatic, what’s your point.)

If You Went Big, Consider Going Bigger

Reach out to your family and friends: do they have books they’d like to donate for others to read? Scope out library sales in search of great books (and resist the urge to buy everything for yourself; we’re on a mission here).

Write a Note to Put inside the Book

Technically, this isn’t something you need to do in order to be a book fairy. But if there’s one thing better than free books, it’s free books with a personalized note from the previous reader: we read to connect with our fellow humans, after all. And connecting with people over cherished books is, in my opinion, one of life’s greatest little joys. Even something as simple as “Loved this book, I hope you do too!” is meaningful.

Be Careful; We’re Still In a Global Pandemic

After almost two years of living in the world of COVID-19, we still need to be careful, especially when we’re talking about circulating items like books. Make sure to minimize the chances of passing an infection along with your books by quarantining them for 48 hours before packing them up (at least if you got them from somebody else).

Get Packaging

This step can be as simple or as complicated as you want: you can put the book in an envelope and call it a day, or you could make a production out of it. Wrap it up in pretty paper or fabric, tie it up with a ribbon, stick a tag on it. I will suggest a little cautiousness: while I love the look of packages with decorative flowers or eucalyptus, you never know what your book’s recipient might be allergic to. Same goes for glitter: it might be dangerous for households with children or pets. You can make something beautiful while still being careful.

Choose a Spot

Ah, we reach the end of our journey. Pick a spot, leave the book there, and snap a picture. Romanticize the moment as much as you can. After all, outside of childhood daydreaming, did you ever think you’d become a bona fide fairy?

Share a Picture of Your Hiding Spot On Social Media

You left your book! Now it’s time to alert the world to its existence. If you have social media, share a picture of your hidden book, and tag your country’s Book Fairies accounts. They will share it with their followers as well. Don’t worry if you don’t have social media, though: somebody will certainly find and treasure your gift regardless.

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