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Pay It Forward: Sharing The Books at Union Station in Toronto

Above photo courtesy author Linda Granfield.

Thanks to writer and librarian Nancy Runstedler for organizing the Toronto PIF (Pay It Forward): Sharing The Books event at Union Station yesterday. Similar events took place around the world at 4 pm including Thailand, England, Germany, Wales, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Scotland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Serbia, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, other cities in Canada and the U.S.

I’ve heard of flash mob events before but never participated. The basic idea of a flash mob: a group of seemingly random people assemble suddenly in a public place, perform a seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse. Our group was more of a smart mob because we did have a purpose:

The purpose of this Book Reading Flash Mob is to create an awareness of the Pay It Forward Organisation and the work that they do globally, as well as the impact that books have on our lives.

Above: Organizer Nancy Runstedler explains the basic rules of the event.

We were each encouraged to bring a book that inspired us, kept us company during a long journey, brought tears to our eyes, or got us thinking about things in a different light. I brought Ray Bradbury’s DANDELION WINE because it was the first book that ever made me really aware of style in writing.

I’ve always been a huge Ray Bradbury fan. His autograph had a prominent page in my collection as a teenager:

I also wrote a song called “Homecoming” based on his short story, “The Rocket Man”. You can hear “Homecoming” on my music group’s live performance album. I’m playing the rhythm guitar part on this track, Allison Durno plays lead guitar bits and Jodi Krangle sings lead. Allison and I sing some backup during the chorus. You can read my lyrics to “Homecoming” on the Urban Tapestry site.

Even before I experienced family loss myself, I was deeply moved by this story and others by Ray Bradbury. His writing affected me in so many ways, and was a major factor in my own desire to be a writer.

Above: Some of us show our empty hands after giving away the books we were reading. I gave mine to a fellow by the ticket booths who had been watching us. He seemed surprised and pleased, then thanked me. 🙂 Photo courtesy Roben Goodfellow.

What I loved most about the event, (apart from the overall purpose, of course): those five minutes of sitting in one of Toronto’s most-trafficked transportation hubs with a bunch of other book lovers and just READING. Knowing that these people had taken time out of their busy weekday schedules (Author Marthe Jocelyn came from Stratford!) to participate, to share their love of books.

I also enjoyed checking out what books that others brought, and was reminded of some of my other favourites like The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe(brought by one of the younger participants) and Jonathan Livingston Seagull (brought by my friend Mahtab Narsimhan).

Some of the participants (I’ll be adding to list as I find out more names):

Nancy Runsteadler, Mahtab Narsimhan, Cheryl Rainfield, Marthe Jocelyn, Karen Krossing, Christie Harkin, Rebecca Upjohn, Linda Granfield, Paul Kropp, Roxanne Deans, Roben Goodfellow, Joyce Grant.

Thanks again SO much to Nancy Runstedler for organizing the event! You can find out more about Pay It Forward at

Related posts:

Cheryl Rainfield’s blog post about the PIF Book Sharing event

Karen Krossing’s “Flash Mob Of Readers” post on Goodreads

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