At university, Tobi picked up a rather unique habit. His housemate, Bola, was an English major who had an unfortunate problem: she hated reading books when she felt forced to do so. Despite having the reading list for her classes, the thought of being compelled to read a book pretty much disgusted her. So, in order to overcome this, Tobi would hide books in unexpected places. He hid them in her car, at the coffee shop where she worked and a bunch of other spots. While Bola lacked discipline, she had an abundance of curiosity. Her inquisitive nature meant that when she found a book, seemingly discarded, she would read at least a chapter.
Now, many years advanced from his university days, Tobi still hid books; in cafes, restaurants, clothing store changing rooms. This phase of his book hiding career had started accidentally. A few months before graduation, he had hidden a book at the coffee shop as he had done so many times previously. A few days later, he had overheard a man talking to the owner about a book he had found at the coffee shop.
“I would never have bought the book,” said the man. “But I just saw it there and I was intrigued.”
The man continued, “It’s the best book I’ve ever read!”
Seeing the impact he had had on Bola and now this man, Tobi decided to expand his efforts. In order to hide books, Tobi had to collect the books. At first, he bought books from local bookstores. Later, he set up a post office box and ordered books in bulk. He felt like he was doing his part for making, and for authors. He tried to have a good balance of books from independent authors as well as foreign writers. He could not tangibly assess his impact, but Tobi was sure that his strange practice was making a difference.
One morning, Tobi was watching the news and saw a report about a book ban affecting the schools in his town. The school board had voted to ban books they deemed to have a negative influence on children. The decision was not based on any evidence, but on the opinions of a small group of individuals. Tobi was enraged. It was censorship. It was effectively mind control. In that moment Tobi formulated a plan to do something about it.
It took about a month to bring the components of the plan together. He found a list of the banned books and ordered them in bulk. The next phase of the plan involved figuring out how to access and leave various locations around the town without being seen. Finally, Tobi had the books, his access plans and an unmarked vehicle. Over the course of a week, Tobi orchestrated several book drops, at the local arcade, the skate park and other selected locations.
His exploits eventually made the local news. Whilst a number of prominent people went on camera to express their outrage, it soon became clear that a private citizen buying and surreptitiously donating books was not a crime. The local children were more than happy to accept the books from their mysterious benefactor. They even started book clubs, secretly shared lists of book recommendations and conducted their own book drops of the books they had enjoyed. Rebellion, it would seem, was contagious.
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