5 Unique Bookish Traditions Practiced Around the World

How would you like to have a week-long celebration for reading? Or maybe participate in a novel writing challenge? Keep reading to discover book and reading practices around the world!

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Globe with books and paper airplanes surrounding it.

Enjoying a good book is something that millions of people enjoy around the world. Many traditions have been practiced in different cities and countries for ages that encourage people to discover the joy of reading. Continue reading to learn more about them!

1. Jólabókaflóð

Christmas trees and books for presents.

Icelanders read an exceptional amount of books and one in ten will even publish a book in their lifetime, so their reading tradition of Jólabókaflóð makes perfect sense. The tradition of Jólabókaflóð, which stands for “Yule Book Flood,” began during World War II. Due to the war, imports were restricted while paper was cheap. At the time, Iceland wasn’t large enough to have a year-round publisher so during the last few weeks of the year, publishers would bring their books to market. On December 24th, people exchange their books and spend the rest of Christmas Eve snuggled under blankets, reading their new stories.

2. Book Fairies

Book and fairies.

Starting in Milan, a city known for creativity, this simple tradition is one that is growing in popularity worldwide. Participants will read a book and, rather than place it back on a shelf of their personal library to collect dust, they’ll tie it in a green ribbon, add a designated sticker to the cover that marks the tradition, and hide the book somewhere in public so someone else can discover their new book. Some “fairies” place books in easy-to-reach areas, but others like to hide their books in places like bus stations, behind store signs, or under benches. Someone who knows the tradition will see the sticker, read the book, and decide if they also want to leave the book for the next reader to enjoy or if they want to add to their shelves. A book could be read thousands of times during this tradition, even giving the chance for non-readers to enjoy a new book.

3. Läslov

Two kids reading books.

This Swedish tradition, also known as the “reading holiday,” spans over the course of a whole week. Starting on October 31st, kids are home from school and the reading activities begin. Of course you can participate in the holiday by just reading your books, but there are also so many other things you can be a part of. You can partake in book swap parties, movie screenings, and writing competitions. Every year there is a different theme, which guides readers to certain books and activities throughout the week.

4. National Novel Writing Month

The Night Circus and Trail of Lightning

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo takes place in the United States and is a month-long quest that challenges its participants to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. What started in 1999 as a self development challenge has now become a huge marvel on the internet for both writers and readers. In 2006, NaNoWriMo officially became a non-profit organization and has members from all backgrounds, all over the world. Anyone from teachers to engineers to cooks to stay-at-home parents can join the organization for free and utilize its resources to write. Some notable novels that have been published from the NaNoWriMo are Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

5. Stone Soup Happy Reading Alliance

Teacher reading to students.

Back in 2007, China created the SSHRA or the Stone Soup Happy Reading Alliance, which focuses on making reading fun and voluntary for students. The organization aims to make reading enjoyable for students while also improving their literacy skills. Book carts are pushed around the school, allowing students to choose their own reading material. In addition, teachers also read aloud to their students, and sometimes students even perform acts or dramas based on a book or reading of their choice.

These reading traditions have entertained book lovers for generations. Whether you prefer the book fairies or writing 50,000 words for a novel, don’t be afraid to try out one of these practices, or maybe even throw your own twist on a tradition in order to feed your love for reading!

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