What do you do what your book collection gets out of control and you find yourself completely surrounded (some might say drowning) in books? A recent BBC article described how Hernando Guanlao found himself in that position in 2000, with books completely taking over his home.
Embracing the theory that "A book should be used and reused. It has life, it has a message” Guanlao, (known to his friends as Nanie), set up an informal library to share his love of reading and passion for books, outside his home in central Manila. The idea is really rather simple. You can take as many books as you want, for as long as you want - even permanently. As Guanlao says: "The only rule is that there are no rules."
Guanlao’s library, he prefers the term ‘book club’, has been going strong for 12 years and his enthusiasm for the written word is certainly contagious with many other people getting in to the book sharing ethos and donating books to the cause. In fact Guanlao confesses he has no idea how many books are in his collection, but with books spilling out around the garden and garage not to mention the house itself, he’s the care-taker of a significant number of titles.
With the average price of a book being 300 pesos (£4.50, $7) in Manilla, a country where 15.5% of the population live off $1 a day, it’s hardly surprising that Guanlao’s local community have embraced his give, take and share philosophy. And it doesn’t stop there, to help the poorest communities in the city Guanlao regularly takes to his ‘book bike’ to distribute books to those that can’t make it to his home.
Guanlao’s spirit is also blooming across the Philippines with Guanlao donating books to a man in Bicol province to set up a similar initiative and another friend who is aiming to set up a ‘book boat’ travelling around the islands of Sulu and Basilan.
So although I haven't met this amazing man I have swathes of respect, admiration and love for Guanlao, his drive and passion for reading is beyond inspirational and I hope to one day visit his book-club-library for myself.
Guanlao, you are my new book exchange super-hero!
Who would you nominate as your bookish super-hero? Let us know in the comments below and maybe we could start our very own book exchange heros award...
Read the full BBC article here.