Commuters taking the metro might have noticed it’s gotten a bit more literary of late and that’s because of the pet project of one Montreal woman with a passion for the written word.
Since December, Audree Archambault has taken to leaving books throughout the metro system – on benches, near escalators, anywhere a metro rider might be likely to spot them.
“I mostly share novels,” she said. “Mostly in French, but some of the books are in English, too. It can also be cook books, books for kids, graphic novels, really anything.”
Her bibliophilic quest was sparked after reading an article about actress Emma Watson.
“She was leaving books in the New York subway and I was very curious. I did some research and I learned that this was a big, like, global book-sharing initiative that takes place in more than 20 cities all around the world.”
Archambault began calling publishers, asking them to send her books to leave on the metro. While the companies agreed, she’s also reached into her own book shelves to share some personal favourites.
Sharing literature is old hat for Archambault, a self-described “booktuber” who has made YouTube videos to promote and discuss books and her book-sharing program.
Each book she leaves is marked with a stick so people can identify it as a free book. They’re encouraged to enjoy it and then pass it on.
For now, Archambault is operating a solo operation, but she’s hoping to see more people start sharing the books they love in this unconventional way. She’s enlisted Quebec writer Simon Boulerice to help her spread the word and has gotten the blessing of the STM to continue her operations. Transit authorities have just asked that Archambault watch to make sure her books are picked up.
“I’m trying to have a group of what we call ‘book fairies,’ so a group of book lovers who are going to help me drop more books in different stations,” she said.
As for what she gets out of this altruism, Archambault said she simply enjoys seeing people getting pleasure out of reading.
“I like when I see people reading and I can see on their face if they’re laughing or if this is a sad story,” she said. “I like that.”