UPDATE: Next week is the one-year anniversary of Fun Monday. Thanks to Chris B for figuring this out and contacting Vicki, who started the whole thing and has graciously agreed to be next week's host.
For today's Fun Monday, I want to hear about a web site that's changed your life. A web site that you can't live without. A web site whose inventor you'd like to see win a McArthur Genius Grant. A lot of people have said that they didn't think they could narrow it down to one, and that's okay. A top-5 list or a top-3 list is completely acceptable.
In June of last year, Claire introduced me to Bookmooch. The tag line under the Bookmooch logo succintly sums up its mission: "Give Away Books. Get Books You Want." It's a very simple, fair premise.
You make an inventory of books you have that you're willing to send away to people. For each book you add, you get 1/10 of a point. When someone wants one of your books, you get 1 point if they're in your country and 3 points if they're international. When you find a book you want, you request the book. You "pay" 1 point if the book is in your country, 2 points if it's outside.
I'm a voracious reader and a lot of what I read is crap that I will never look at again. (I'm a couch potato, but my entertainment source is a book instead of a television.) It's brain candy and after it's been consumed, it has no real value. Enter Bookmooch - I can give away the books I don't want and find books that I do want, some of which would be difficult to find in Ireland.
Yes, I have to pay for postage on the books I send, but it's always less than the cost of a new book. Plus, I've found that it's the actual process of packaging up the book and preparing it for shipping that I enjoy. It must be the organising nerd in me, but nothing makes me happier than a stack of brown-paper wrapped, addressed books waiting for shipping.
I've tried to explain this, but the only other person who really understood was also an organising nerd. If the old adage is that it's better to give than to receive, then for an organising nerd, it's damn near Nirvana to create crisp paper folds and judiciously use tape to secure a package.
Bookmooch has changed my life in subtle, unexpected ways. Having to go to the post office has given me something to look forward to during the work day. It's nice to take a ten-minute break and have a short walk into the village. Bookmooch also has started to influence how I buy books. The mooch-ability of a book factors into my purchasing choices. In December, I bought On Chesil Beach because I knew I'd be able to turn it around quickly on Bookmooch. Ordinarily, I'd probably shy away from a book like that, fearing that it would be difficult to read. On Chesil Beach ended up being the best book I read last year.
In the nearly seven months I've been a member of Bookmooch, I've sent out 52 books. Predictably, many have gone to the States, Ireland, the UK, Australia and Canada, but I've also sent books to Finland and Portugal. I even sent a book to a place I'd never heard of before - Wallis and Futuna Islans.
Bookmooch has given me the obvious - books and a home for my unwanted books. But it's also given me an outlet for my obsessive-compulsive organisational skils and a crash course in geography. I can't imagine what more I could want from a web site.