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Choose What You Read – Free Novels for Tube Commuters

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Published 7 March 2010

Choose What You Read is an amazing scheme, launched by two friends to give the pleasure of reading to commuters. This concept provides an alternative to the tonnes of free newspapers, such as The Evening Standard, that overwhelm the streets and trains of London everyday.

I have to admit that I love watching people while travelling. I enjoy creating stories about strangers, as this is far more entertaining than reading those free newspapers. It might be free of charge, but it is also almost entire free and devoid of quality. Besides, we can not brush aside the harm to the environment generated by this huge amount of paper waste. In contrast, the Choose What You Read scheme offers the opportunity not only to decide on what we read, but I can see no easier and more enjoyable way to contribute towards protecting the environment.

The idea is that once a month, volunteers from the scheme will be at various tube stations across the capital with a selection of books and novels to hand out for free. All we have to do is to return the finished book the next month, or leave it in one of the drop boxes in London. They have two drop boxes so far, more promised to follow shortly: Curzon Cinema Soho, 99 Shaftesbury Ave and Eastside Books, 166 Brick Lane.

The books are donated by the public, so if you’re running out of bookshelf space for your new books, feel free to give away some of your older ones and support the programme. All books are accepted; from fiction to non-fiction, hardbacks to paperbacks. Volunteers are also welcome to help with the once-monthly distribution. The main stations are Westminster, Liverpool Street, Tottenham Court Road, Kings Cross and London Bridge, but to be able to cover all these areas they are always in need of more volunteers.

If you’re looking to pick up a book to read, look out for someone waving a large purple lollipop sign at one of the stations! For details about the upcoming events and drop boxes, please visit the website www.choosewhatyouread.com, or join the Choose What You Read group on Facebook.

Remember, there are neither fines nor deadlines, but a conscious effort to keep the books in a good condition is necessary to keep this great initiation alive. It is sort of like renting a book – only that it is free or charge. Readers are encouraged to leave their name inside the cover of the books after they have read them, but we should avoid using them as message boards. And in case you find yourself visiting New York in the future, you can enjoy the same programme across the pond, and I hope that many other cities will follow this incredible idea in the future. Congratulations to the founders!

Article written by Adrienn Gecse.


  • Clara Lopes

    Brilliant idea! Well written! Thanks for that!