(Photo source - Litera) Bucharesteans are getting terribly good at coming up with strategies to promote reading.
Romania Insider published THIS article this morning on a recent project between Meridian Taxi and Editura Litera, The Mobile Library (Biblioteca Mobila), where clients can browse through books as they're driven to their destinations. Published by Litera, Alice Munro, AP Cehov, Sinclair Lewis, Frantz Kafka and Mihail Bulgakov are just a few of the authors you'll find in a Meridian taxi - and they'll be changed on a monthly basis. The project aims to 'encourage reading, turning every moment into an opportunity to get stuck into a book' says a post on Editura Litera's Facebook page. What a fiendishly excellent idea!
(Photo source - Litera) Picture the scene: you've flagged a Meridian taxi - my favourite cab company incidentally - to get you to heaven knows where, are stuck in a traffic jam and spy a book title on the front seat you rather fancy. You get stuck in (if you don't get carsick like me) and become utterly engrossed in chapter 1. I guess they'll choose to put works that capture attention immediately otherwise what would be the point. Once at your destination you're going to have one thought in mind: "Ohhhhh!! But I'm just getting to a good bit!" or "But I don't wanna stop..." Off you'll go to the nearest bookshop to buy a copy. Brilliant marketing strategy by Editura Litera (even if you could probably get the same title by other publishing houses depending on the bookshop you go to). Well done!
There are plenty of other creative examples here in Bucharest for luring noses into a good tome.
In almost every metrou station, you'll find book vending machines much like the ones you feed money into for snacks and drinks. YES! I said BOOK VENDING MACHINES. How great is that? They too are changed regularly and have a wide range of choice from I.L Caragiale and Nichita Stanescu to Octavian Paler, Marin Preda and Neagu Djuvara.
(Photo: Sarah in Romania) Not long ago in Grădina Cismigiu, I fell upon a wonder. A book tree! Sounds magical doesn't it. There it was, a silver vision stretching out its book-ladened branches up, up, up towards a hazy sky. The trunk had all kinds of hidey holes equally stuffed full of books and magazines. Around the tree beanbags, seats and hammocks beckoned at passers-by to fall into for a rest and a read. A café had been set up too where you could grab a coffee or a soda to accompany you on your literary journey. There were plenty of people all lost between pages in peaceful surroundings. What a gift on a hot day.
The Metropolitan Library (strada Tache Ionescu nr.4). was another to create a Reading Garden this summer, see HERE.
(Photo source) And that's not all. Asociaţia Team Work in partnership with Grădina Botanică "Dimitrie Brândză" launched "Grădina din Cărţi" ("Book Garden") at the Botanical Gardens last month dedicated to students needing a place to study for exams and working together on projects. Workshops and photography competitions have been just two of the possible events found there this year.
(Photo source) There are several cafés that have strived to make reading a part of their ambiance. Take Green Tea (see left) at str. Dr. Burghelea nr.24 near Piata Traian for example, a cosy hub where the owner puts her library at your disposition should you not have your own reading matter with you. Curled up in a comfy chair under a sloping roof, book in hand and a mug of coffee or tea by your side you can while away the hours surrounded by soft jazz and golden oldies. The Hobby Café on strada Sfântu Stefan (Parcul Popa Soare - map HERE) is another haven rich in the literary word along with board games, Nintendo, chess, card tables, table football and anything else you can possibly think of to pass the time in the establishment's Hobby Room, Salon du Thé or Coffee Room. There's a nice terrace too. Mustn't forget the multicultural Readers Café (photo left) at the Metropolis Business Centre on Iancu de Hunedoara either. Cristina and Dan opened an English bookshop as a result of partnerships with publishers in the US and the UK and there, you can read to your heart's content accompanied by regular live music and exceptionally good food should you get peckish.
See THIS link for other reader-friendly cafés.
(Photo source) Bucharest isn't a city alone in its quest to encourage reading. Back in June, bus-rides were free for a week in Cluj for anyone armed with a book. Bookworm and founder of the "Cărţile pe faţă" campaign Victor Miron went to Emil Boc (the city mayor) with his proposal who put the suggestion on his Facebook page with an overwhelmingly positive response. Set up as part of several other initiatives aimed to promote reading in the city, free public transport is certainly an incentive to open a book!
Also thanks to Victor Miron, 3rd June last year saw people able to take taxis between 11h-15h totally free of charge here in Bucharest, providing they had a book with them and read for the majority of the fare.
(Photo source) Every Thursday in August 2014, an area in Parcul Izvor was transformed into an open-air reading room between 16h-21h complete with comfy places to sit and shelves for book swaps, whilst the Sky Tower organised a very nice space on one of their large terraces wih benches, colourful sofas, a fountain and play area for children for anyone needing a break. They didn't provide books - you brought your own - but it was a lovely spot to sit and read awhile not to mention the additional bonus of a superb view over the city.
So, all those who bemoan that Bucharest has nothing to offer, it does. Jos palaria to all those creative, imaginative people whose love and respect for reading, education and knowledge keep books alive and well in this beloved city of mine.
The book is not dead! Long live the book!!