If in Tunisia, don’t be surprised if a yellow taxi passes you by with the phrase “Attention: This Taxi contains a book” and inside is a passenger enjoying traffic with a book by Paulo Coelho, Naguib Mahfouz or Khalil Gibran.
A Tunisian platform named YallaRead (which translates to Come On, Read) and cab-hailing service eCab launched a campaign to encourage reading in traffic through a network of taxi libraries. YallaRead is a platform that was launched in May this year to connect literary buffs and allow them to share and exchange books. The platform placed Arabic, French and English books in taxi libraries that vary between poetry, fiction and non-fiction with the only exception being religious texts.
Despite the high literacy rate in the country, at around 80% of total population, a large majority of Tunisians do not have reading materials laying around in their households and have not purchased any in the past year. Seeking funds, YallaRead is hoping to expand in all taxis and help expand reading books.
British actress Emma Watson took part in a similar initiative, launched by books on the Underground’s project to bring new and used books to travelers. The actress started leaving copies of her favorite feminist books in the London tube, asking readers to “take special care” of the book and “please leave it on the tube again for someone else to find” when they are finished with it.
In France, vending machines giving out free short stories were placed in train stations to help people kill time while waiting for their trains. The stories were submitted by over 5,000 anonymous authors and vary from literature to lyrical poetry and fairy tales. A train operator said that the machines distributed 100,000 stories printed on paper over the past six months, from an entirely random selection.