Yep, you read correctly. And, as someone who loves reading, this was a fantastic opportunity.
The premise behind the Human Library movement is to break down stigma and prejudices in society. It’s about finding out more about people from different cultures, minorities and backgrounds and, not to judging a book by its cover.
So, being a Human Book means you get to tell your story… And choose your book title. For someone like me who’s obsessed with books and reading, being surrounded by books and buying books, this was such an amazing opportunity. My title was ‘Living on the edge…of my seat’, all about turning my mental health from a negative to a positive and what that’s helped me to achieve. There were some amazing books available for talking to including ‘Seeing the funny side’, ‘Thriving not Surviving’ and ‘The Singing Pensioner’! The lovely singing gentleman just filled so many people with smiles and serenaded someone whenever he got the chance.
For me, talking to lots of people I don’t know from 12-4pm was pretty easy and pretty awesome. It also highlighted going from speaking to no one anywhere for fear of rejection years ago, to talking to anyone. My self esteem crept in once we were all seated and I thought ‘Well, I don’t think anyone will come and talk to me but that’s ok. I can go and listen to the other books.’ Oh how wrong I was.
It was incredible. From 12pm when it started until 4pm when I left, people wanted to speak to me. And I really enjoyed speaking to them and finding out more about their experiences. It was definitely overwhelming but in the best kind of way. People from all different cultures, backgrounds, ways of life and experience came and sat with me. We chatted about everything we could in the 30mins we were allocated.
This amazing gentleman was from Syria and had only just started learning to speak English. He spoke to me for about 40mins and it was incredible. His life story and passion to do well in the UK was inspiring. I kept telling him how well he was doing and how his English ability was fantastic. (In this photo, he was showing me how young he looked without a beard!)
It was interesting having lots of different conversations but also talking about mental health, how people felt about it’s representation and how they were coping with the stresses and anxieties in their lives. There were some inspirational stories about overcoming depression for family, accepting who you are and people trying to improve their lives with smiles on their faces.
Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone writes their own stories and create them day-by-day. The difference between you and a paperback book is that you can create your own future. You can escape from what makes life miserable because you, are amazing. You have the power. And you can totally nail being a Human Book.