Book Readers Win Free Bus Rides in Romania

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People nodding along to their favorite podcasts or jamming out to their own personal playlists populate trains and buses in cities around the world. A symphony of high-volume, warring iPod songs often plague our daily commute. And yet, occasionally, we might glimpse someone paging through an actual novel (or, perhaps, you are that person…) In that instance, we rejoice: the book is not dead! Long live the book!

And now, finally, public transport users finally have a great reason to put away their headphones. In Cluj-Napoca — the second most populous city in Romania — travelers with their noses buried in a book were awarded free bus rides from June 4th-7th, 2015. Despite only being offered for an abbreviated time period, perhaps immensely positive reinforcements such as free rides will enforce a better reading habit. (Famous psychologist B.F. Skinner was on to something, wasn’t he?) We all know how hard it is to put down a good book!

We should all aim to emulate Cluj-Napoca’s recent movement. As The Independent reports, Victor Miron proposed the initiative to the city’s mayor, Emil Boc, in an effort to “encourage more people to read on public transportation.” The mayor then, amusingly, posted the idea on his Facebook page, which garnered a flurry of positive support. All we may need, then, is an enthusiastic, persistent champion of books to set this into motion in other cities around the world. An army of readers — instead of an army of vacant-eyed, head-boppin’ zombies with earbuds in — may soon populate your daily commute!

Social media, too, continues to play a big part in the promotion of literacy and the celebration of reading. (For example, I’m willing to bet you arrived at this Electric Literature article via Facebook or Twitter). According to The Independent, Miron is working hard to convince Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to participate in another of his reading-related campaigns: BookFace, which encourages Facebook users to change their profile picture to one of themselves reading. Because Zuckerberg recently launched “A Year of Books,” I’m optimistic that he’ll continue to align himself with the wonderfully lit-crazed demographic of his users.

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