The Book List: From Alan Bennett to Margaret Atwood – the top reads on BookCrossing

Every Wednesday Alex Johnson delves into a unique collection of titles

Alex Johnson
Monday 28 May 2018 20:03 BST
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The social network was set up in 2001, now books are on the move in more than 130 countries
The social network was set up in 2001, now books are on the move in more than 130 countries

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
A Life Like Other People’s by Alan Bennett
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le Carré
Killing Floor by Lee Child
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
New Selected Poems by Seamus Heaney
Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
One Day by David Nicholls
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Toast by Nigel Slater
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Blind Assassin’ is one of the top reads on the site 

BookCrossing, a fine cocktail of old media and new social networking site, describes itself as the world’s library. Essentially, readers register a book – the top 20 favourites are listed above – then release it into the wild where anybody can pick it up, read it, comment on it online, then leave it somewhere else. There are more than 11 million books on the move in more than 130 countries and well over 1.5 million BookCrossers reading them.

The brainchild of Ron Hornbaker, Ron’s wife Kaori and cofounders Bruce and Heather Pedersen, the site has been up and running since 2001. “Our community is changing the world,” they say, “and touching lives one book at a time.”

At the time of writing, the top five BookCrossing countries are the USA, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Finland. The 10 most-travelled books (again at the time of writing, as the lists are constantly changing) are:

Bill Bryson’s African Diary by Bill Bryson
Apocalisse 23 by Michele Fabbri
A Passage to India by EM Forster
Der weisse Neger Wumbaba by Axel Hacke and Michael Sowa
Der seltsame Bücherfreund (Hoffnung’s Constant Readers) by Gerard Hoffnung
Little Johnnie and the Naughty Boat People by Christopher Milne
Mrs Biddlebox by Linda Smith
Was ich dir zum Geburtstag wünsche – Das Buch zu Patschoulis 90 by Ellen Sonntag
Kamasutra der Frösche by Tomi Ungerer
Ojalá Jane Fonda nos ilumine by Marcelo Juan Valenti

Nigel Slater’s memoir also makes the list

Londoners caught short without decent reading matter can also make use of the Books on the Underground scheme, which has put/hidden more than 15,000 free new and used books around the Underground network (on trains, seats, signs, ticket counters) since 2012, a figure which is growing by around 150 a week. So successful has it been that there are now satellite sites in New York (Books on the Subway), Washington (Books on the Metro), Chicago (Books on the L) and Sydney (Books on the Rail).

All genres are represented in these “Books on” schemes, from poetry to colouring-in books. Here is a typical list, from October 2016, of books you may have sat next to on the tube in London:

The Tattooist by Louise Black
Pavement: Thoughts of a Serial Killer by Richard Butchins
The Hitchcock Murders by Gavin Collinson
Pirates by Greg Cummings
The Wrong Train by Jeremy de Quidt
The Secret by Katerina Diamond
Tigeropolis: Beyond the Deep Forest by RD Dikstra
My Beautiful England by Michelle Flatley
Who Are You? by Elizabeth Forbes
Moskva by Jack Grimwood
Love You Dead by Peter James
The Judas Scar by Amanda Jennings
The Fairy’s Tale by FD Lee
Drinks with Dead Poets by Glyn Maxwell
Dark River Melody by MD Murphy
The Secret Wife by Gill Paul
Twin Truths by Shelan Rodger
Wicked Game by Eve Seymour
Game Over by Eve Seymour
Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Tall Oaks by Christopher Whitaker
The Blackheath Seance by Alan L Williams

‘A Book of Book Lists’ by Alex Johnson, £7.99, British Library Publishing

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