These Storied Pages

By Aislinn Redbond, posted 04/03/21

Celebrating the connection reading offers on World Book Day.

Pre-loved books on display at Shrub Coop.

Reading is one of those experiences that is both highly personal and yet also a source of community. Reading can challenge our perspectives and drive our imaginations. It can provide us with an escape or ground us in reality. Entire worlds are opened through the words of a page, and with these worlds, new conversations. So many of us connect with others through reading, explicitly or subconsciously. For those involved in book clubs, we meet to relay our thoughts and opinions on the material we have read. In a more informal manner, we may encounter a new favourite book that compels us to share it with everyone we love, binding us to both the author and those we pass the book on to. However, our experiences of reading can feed into our lives in other ways too. We might not even notice it happening, but when we spend time with an author and their characters or opinions, we can adopt their expressions or find ourselves challenged to re-evaluate our own positions on topics. In fact, reading can be an important way to pursue personal growth, maybe encouraging us to confront uncomfortable truths or deepening our understanding of the world around us. Books have the potential to open up so many new possibilities to us, yet we rarely pause to consider their impact on our lives.

For many people, the joy of discussing a book we have loved is a wonderful source of connection with others. We can build trust in others through this act, as the process of revealing our insights into a book can often teach us about our own worldview. When we engage with others like this, we create a system of reciprocity, sharing book recommendations and maybe stepping outside of our comfort zone to understand the passions of others. Looking at Facebook or Goodreads, there are countless pages dedicated to connecting fans of certain genres or authors, showing how important this sense of community around books is.

In these times of disconnection and isolation, reading has become even more important in our lives than before, reflected in the increase of book sales during the pandemic. People have gotten creative in their reading habits in order to reinforce that sense of community that reading provides. Free libraries began to pop up across cities, such as the one established by Greening Our Street in The Meadows, where people can take a book or leave one for others to enjoy. There are many tales of friends creating their own long-distance book clubs, posting books to each other to bring a bit of relief in these challenging times. At Shrub Coop, we are hoping to adopt some of these practices into our mission, and our Zero Waste Hub volunteers have been busy categorising our books by genre and putting them into little bundles of five for you. If you are interested in this, email Alun at alun.evans@shrubcoop.orgwith a sentence about the kind of books you enjoy, and together you can arrange a pick up time between 3pm and 6pm Tuesdays-Saturdays. These books are free and will be great for your own lockdown entertainment or as a gift to drop off to someone who is shielding!

The way we consume books can also be a source of interaction with others in and of itself. For example, when we borrow or lend a book to someone else, we receive insight into their world. Do they write notes in the margins? Do they use bookmarks or fold down the pages? Are there any inscriptions from a loved one on the cover? Even the knowledge that someone has loved this book before you can create a bond. For those who are looking for more environmentally friendly ways to consume books, this experience is a regular and wonderful occurrence. The rise of secondhand bookshops allows us to pick up books that have been enjoyed by someone else, perhaps with little notes or hints that tell us a bit about the previous owners. Websites such as and provide more eco-conscious and ethical ways to purchase books during this pandemic, as they are sourced from secondhand sellers, avoiding the likes of Amazon and Book Depository. Good news for both your wallet and your conscience! Even apps such as Depop have a large number of books available if you know what you are searching for, and entire charity shops dedicated to books have emerged over the years. At Shrub Coop, we have an extensive collection of pre-adored books that, when restrictions are eased, you can browse through. If you have been to Shrub Coop before, you’ll know that community is at the heart of what we do, and so your book shopping experience is likely to spark interesting conversations before you even leave the Zero Waste Hub! Honouring the connection of reading in a manner that is both social, sustainable and ethical, you may just find your new favourite book at Shrub Coop (that you can then share with others after!).

A note from the previous owner in Aislinn’s copy of ‘Just Kids’ by Patti Smith.

Further sources for secondhand books:

SHRUB Coop is supported through a combination of grant funding and generous donations from our community. We’re grateful for all their support. Find out more about our grant funders by clicking on the logos above.