Riot Headline COVID-19 Updates from the Bookish World

Every Wednesday, Buy A Stranger A Book

I have a little bit of a crush on The Big Green Bookshop, and their initiative to help you buy a stranger a book isn’t helping that. It’s an indie bookstore in London, located at the other end of the country from me, and yet I feel like it’s my bookshop best friend. A lot of that comes from the Twitter account run by Simon, one of the bookstore’s co-owners. You might find him tweeting about his kids being asleep (check out We’re Asleep Dad for more on this topic), or about #buyastrangerabook.

Buy A Stranger A Book is an initiative that does exactly what it says. Every Wednesday, people on Twitter offer to buy a stranger a book, and Big Green Books will sort it out. Sometimes the buyer might give a value limit to their contribution (i.e. ‘up to £25’), a specific title that they want to purchase somebody, or they might ask for the book to bought under certain conditions.

There have been tweets offering books to students struggling with their reading lists, books of poetry to strangers, or simply offering a tenner to help a book get into the hands of somebody who needs it. Or you can donate to a fund the bookshop uses to fund local literacy initiatives. Trust me, Big Green Bookshop has got form in this area, having crowdfunded a copy of The Lost Words into every primary school in Haringey.

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It’s an initiative that started on Twitter, and in a world where everything can so easily be horrible, Buy A Stranger A Book functions as a bright, fierce star. It’s a reminder of the great things indie bookstores can do, but it’s also a reminder of the greatness of people (and the greater greatness of bookish people). What’s not to love?

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