a peek inside the fishbowl

28 Nov, 2010

Sunday reading

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Yaktivism

I was still in university, working my retail sales job. My friend and I both worked at the same store. She invited me to join her for Christmas dinner that year (and I think her mom – but my memory is cloudy on that point). I bought her a little book as a gift. I don’t even remember what the book was called. It was collection of holiday stories. I wrote her some instructions on the inside front cover. I wrote that my gift was only a temporary one, and that the following year she had to sign it and gift the book to someone else she knew. 

I’ve always wondered where that book ended up.

I thought I’d take a minute to let you know how our community bookcase is doing. It is ok. Just ok. Maybe a tiny bit dreary and in need of a helping hand. A few too many donations of old PolySci and math textbooks have accumulated there (along with a few other tomes I will soon officially decree to be unreadable) and are clogging things up. The current situation is a bit good news/bad news really. In the next couple of weeks I will be giving the shelf an assessment and a big pruning. There are lots of paperbacks of all kinds (yay!), but I think the worst thing is (aside from “Freshman Math”) is that there is a notable gap in children’s lit (boo).

That’s why I was very happy to receive a good-sized donation of mostly tweenage reading material yesterday. I’ve decided to label the books and bring them up to Dovercourt a few at a time.

I’m going to take a Bookcrossing-type of approach with this batch. I’ve created some labels designed to look like a thought bubble. (These books are smart. Who knew that books can think?)

The text reads: “Borrow me. Read me. Take care of me. And when you’re done, bring me back to Dovercourt and swap me for another.” And then it says: “Did you read me? I’m competing with my bookish friends here. I’d like to know your name…”

At which point I added a few lines to collect a few signatures.

I’m hoping that (a) this catches the interest of a few tweens and (b) it encourages the kids to bring the books back and keep them circulating.

This afternoon we released the following books into the wild:

Yolonda’s Genius, Carol Fenner
Robinson Crusoe, retold from Daniel Defoe
The Dark is Rising, Susan Cooper
Gulliver’s Travels, retold from Jonathan Swift

Books on the way out

If you see one and pass it along to a tween you know, please ask them to sign it before they set it free. I’d like to see a couple of them find their way home some day. Thank you!

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10 Responses to "Sunday reading"

1 | bushidoka

November 28th, 2010 at 8:52 pm


I’m glad you mentioned book crossing – it is a pretty nifty idea

2 | Erica at KitchissippiKids

November 28th, 2010 at 9:02 pm


I’ll try and drop off some kids books – we’ve been doing some weeding of our own. For new to come in, some have to go out.

Is there anyway to encourage people to keep the kids books on the lower shelves? Probably not….

3 | Stefania (Ingredients for Life)

November 28th, 2010 at 9:06 pm


Don’t you worry…on my to-do list is to go through our books and bring you some children’s books.

4 | andrea

November 28th, 2010 at 9:11 pm


Bushidoka: Bookcrossing rocks. So does 1000 journals. Have you seen that one?

Erica: Thank you! When I’m up there tidying I try to sort them so the kids books are on the bottom shelf. And I know I’m not alone! Secret volunteers do it too. I think that’s all we can do.

Stefania: Thank you! Let me know ahead of time and maybe we can meet up?

5 | susan

November 28th, 2010 at 9:20 pm


I totally forgot that I was also going to bring in some children’s books!

6 | Chrissy

November 28th, 2010 at 10:41 pm


That’s great! I hope you hear back from some of these books some day. I released a whole bunch of books through bookcrossing and never heard a peep from them again. I still check on them occasionally, a full of hope, but nothing.

7 | andrea

November 29th, 2010 at 9:56 am


Chrissy: me too. *sigh*

8 | Gifting books to children >> a peek inside the fishbowl

November 30th, 2010 at 10:36 am


[…] is this… when you gift a book, do you write anything inside the book to the gift recipient? This recent post got me thinking about messages in books too. When I shop for secondhand books I love finding an […]

9 | Binki

December 1st, 2010 at 5:23 pm


I put about 10 books on the shelf last night. Almost all good/new books.

10 | andrea

December 2nd, 2010 at 11:56 am


Yay! Thank you Binki!

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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