The Traveling Book Exchange

I love reading books. There’s something inherently satisfying about turning pages, getting lost in another world, learning something new, then putting them on your shelf after reading them or giving them away to friends. They help me fall asleep at night and cure boredom on a rainy day.

It was a month after I started that I picked up my first book, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle for 25 cents at a library in Demopolis, AL. I read it really slow, trying to process all that wisdom that Tolle was trying to bestow on me. It was a decent book that helped guide my thoughts on the trip as I went along but required a certain headspace to get into. On the 30th of October I left it with my friend Omar who I stayed with in College Station, TX. Two days later I bought Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac and Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community by Wendell Berry at Half Price Books in Austin, TX. Those were the last books I paid for on this trip.

I read Dharma Bums and left it at the house that I was staying at because I really thought they would enjoy it, it’s my new favorite book. I finished Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community while staying with a librarian in Alpine, TX and offered to do a book trade. That’s how I got to read Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard and discovered that Ms. Dillard is my new favorite author. I had read and given away the other books, but now I wanted to keep this trend of trading books going. So I did.

Teaching a Stone to Talk was traded for In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan in Silver City, NM.

In Defense of Food was traded for Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100 Mile Diet by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon in Phoenix, AZ.

Then I traded for My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir in San Diego. Which I traded for the book I’m reading now, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard.

Each book has more meaning behind it- a memento of someone that I met. It allows me to connect with someone by offering a book that they want to read and somehow it always worked out that they were genuinely interested in my book recommendation as I was in theirs.

So if you’re traveling for extended periods, or just going to the beach, I recommend trying to push the books you’re reading on people that you meet, ask if they want to trade and see what happens. You might just make a deeper connection with that person, or discover a new favorite book and author!



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