Free books are coming back - and there are no strings attached

4 September 2013

A nationwide act of generosity is about to hit the streets. From 4 September, in towns and cities from Kaitaia to Invercargill, thousands of books will be given away to men, women and children, with the invitation to read them and then pass them on to someone else. This gift of discovery and adventure is known as the ‘Travelling Books’ project, an initiative by Literacy Aotearoa and New Zealand Post, now in its third year.

The books, more than 7,000 in all this year, have been written by New Zealand and international authors, and include fiction, non-fiction, and topics of interest to all ages.

The Travelling Books project is designed to foster a love of reading, and has been enthusiastically received by lucky book-finders since 2011, when it went nationwide for the first time.

The Travelling Books project is being launched on Tuesday 3 September at Government House in Auckland by the Governor-General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae and Lady Janine Mateparae.

Once launched, the books will begin their journeys by being released in public locations in the following centres:

Invercargill Gore
Queenstown Oamaru
Timaru Dunedin
Christchurch Greymouth

Blenheim Nelson Wellington
Lower Hutt
Porirua Upper Hutt Featherston
Palmerston North Whanganui
New Plymouth Napier
Te Kuiti Tokoroa
Rotorua Hamilton Tauranga Thames 

Waiheke Island
North Shore
Auckland Central

The free books – more than 100 different titles – include works by bestselling authors like Jo Nesbo and Jenny Pattrick alongside works by beloved household names like Bernard Beckett and Joy Cowley; and less well-known treasures by local and international writers.

“The Travelling Books project aims to make the exciting worlds of children’s, young adult and adult books readily available to New Zealanders everywhere,” says Literacy Aotearoa CEO, Bronwyn Yates. “It highlights the power of giving, builds community and is a practical, grassroots approach to promoting literacy.”

“Our ultimate aim is to raise people’s awareness that adult literacy need is a major national issue, by celebrating literacy in a way that focuses on the positive and fun aspects of reading, learning and expanding our worlds,” Bronwyn Yates added.

New Zealand Post has a strong tradition of promoting reading and, as sponsor of the New Zealand Post Book Awards and the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards, has been a natural partner for Literacy Aotearoa on this project. New Zealand Post’s head of community investment, Nicola Airey, says the Travelling Books project is a fun and innovative way to promote reading amongst New Zealanders, by making books available to those who otherwise may not be able to access them.

“The simple act of passing on a book you’ve enjoyed to someone else reinforces the joys of sharing and recommending books to others,” Nicola Airey said.

Travelling Book hunters will recognise the new releases by a distinctive sticker on the cover. Inside they will find instructions on how to pass the books on once they’ve finished. They can hand them on to a friend or colleague or, even better, leave them in a safe, dry, public space, where the book can be found anew by passers-by, who can take them home and discover for themselves the pleasure of reading and then passing on freely-shared books.

The books will be sent on their journey around the country by the 45 member providers of Literacy Aotearoa, who will work with local PostShops to liberate them into their communities.

Each book has a unique code inside the front cover, so anyone who picks it up and reads it is invited to log on to the Literacy Aotearoa website and record its title and location. Everyone who reports a book sighting goes into a monthly draw to win one of two $50 ‘Prezzy Cards’ donated by New Zealand Post.

The books were purchased from Huia Publishers, Random House, Gecko Press and Scholastic – who offered generous discounts to help support the Travelling Books project.

A selection of the titles included in this year’s Travelling Books project.

Children’s Books:

  • The Cat’s Pyjamas – Catherine Foreman 
  • Stupid Baby – Stephanie Blake 
  • Dinosaur Rescue - Stego Snottysaurus – Kyle Mewburn & Donovan Bixley 
  • Te Tarau o Papa Koroua – Joy Watson 
  • Organ Music – Margaret Mahy 
  • Lest We Forget – Feana Tu’akoi 
  • Koinei Te Whare Na Haki I Hanga – Gavin Bishop 
  • Stories of the Wild West Gang – Joy Cowley 
  • KISS! KISS! Yuck! Yuck! – Kyle Mewburn 
  • Bad Dog Flash – Ruth Paul 
  • I Am So Handsome – Mario Ramos

Young Adult Fiction: 

  • Space Gum – Tania Roxburgh 
  • And Did Those Feet – Bing Dawe 
  • Home Boys - Bernard Beckett 
  • Monsters of Blood and Honour – Ken Catran 
  • About Griffen’s Heart – Tina Shaw 
  • Dirt Bomb – Fleur Beale 
  • Red Dog in Bandit Country – Bill Redding and Fleur Beale

Adult Fiction:

  • Ancestry – Albert Wendt 
  • Festival of Miracles – Alice Tawhai 
  • Mortal Remains – Kathy Reichs 
  • The Smell of the Moon – Mark Kneubuhl 
  • Ocean Roads – James George 
  • The Descendants – Kaui Hart Hemmings 
  • At the Heart of Hiruharama – Isabel Wati-Mulholland 
  • Stonedogs – Craig Marriner 
  • The Bat – Jo Nesbo 
  • Inheritance – Jenny Pattrick

Adult Non-Fiction:

  • Victory at Point 209 – Huia Publishers 
  • Born to Fly - the Story of John Pohe &ndash Julian Arahanga 
  • Victoria Cross at Takrouna - The Haani Manahi Story – Paul Moon 
  • Bowling through India – Justin Brown 
  • I’m Not Fat - I’m Pregnant! – Jacqui Brown 
  • Little Criminals – David Cohen 
  • Trust – Pip Desmond 
  • Treading Water - Rob Hewitt’s Survival Story – Aaron Smale 
  • The Nutters’ Club – Mike King