Those of us who live in frequent contact with books know that, at times, an unattractive book jacket will confuse us. Great works of literature aren’t always lucky enough to receive presentations equal to their statures. More modest books suffer the same fates. In English language countries, the idea of “not judging a book by its cover” drives home the idea that we often get the wrong idea of ​​what really counts.

This was the premise under which the “Human Library” project began. The name derives from a rarely seen literalism: the “human library” is made up of people who, as if they were books, are made available to anyone.

An undoubtedly terrific idea, it seems to recover one of the most generous and free of approaches to books: with curiosity, without expectations or prejudices, and simply in the spirit of learning.

In this sense, Human Library invites participants to challenge their own ideas about the “categories” they sometimes impose upon others. Why do we agree to read the story of a single mother, but not to listen to a real single mother? Why does a homeless person move us in literature but not when we see him or her on our way to work?

This project has been so moving (in the most literal sense of the word) that, at this writing, it’s shown up in more than 70 countries. Each appearance has been a success, and each has generated a strong interest in the participants, who listen and are listened to. After all, that is the most elementary of concepts. Like compassion or empathy, listening sometimes seems a very distant act, but it’s actually here, in the most day to day acts of coexistence.

 

*Image: Unsplash – Pexels / Creative Commons

Those of us who live in frequent contact with books know that, at times, an unattractive book jacket will confuse us. Great works of literature aren’t always lucky enough to receive presentations equal to their statures. More modest books suffer the same fates. In English language countries, the idea of “not judging a book by its cover” drives home the idea that we often get the wrong idea of ​​what really counts.

This was the premise under which the “Human Library” project began. The name derives from a rarely seen literalism: the “human library” is made up of people who, as if they were books, are made available to anyone.

An undoubtedly terrific idea, it seems to recover one of the most generous and free of approaches to books: with curiosity, without expectations or prejudices, and simply in the spirit of learning.

In this sense, Human Library invites participants to challenge their own ideas about the “categories” they sometimes impose upon others. Why do we agree to read the story of a single mother, but not to listen to a real single mother? Why does a homeless person move us in literature but not when we see him or her on our way to work?

This project has been so moving (in the most literal sense of the word) that, at this writing, it’s shown up in more than 70 countries. Each appearance has been a success, and each has generated a strong interest in the participants, who listen and are listened to. After all, that is the most elementary of concepts. Like compassion or empathy, listening sometimes seems a very distant act, but it’s actually here, in the most day to day acts of coexistence.

 

*Image: Unsplash – Pexels / Creative Commons

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