Books Beyond Bars

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What do you do when you start to run out of room on your bookshelves?

Pre Christmas 2021 found me discussing this exact predicament with my wife. I’d asked for a ridiculous amount of books from Santa, but didn’t actually have any room for more books. I’ll admit there are such things as eBooks and whilst i’ve been dragged kicking and screaming into that world, i’m always going to be a physical book fiend.

Post Christmas, 20 books later, and having made peace with the idea of having to cut down our (more like 75% mine) mammoth DVD collection, the decision was made. I’d have to donate about half of our DVD collection and store some more in the loft before i’d be able to swap furniture and have enough room for new books. The process pained me (i’m as much a movie lover as a book lover), but the end result is a dining room that my wife says resembles a library – i think she was only joking(?)

And so now i’ve started to ponder what will i do once i’ve filled up the space i’ve just created? All jokes aside, it’s highly unlikely that my wife will indulge my book habit to the extent of my own actual library, nor is moving to a bigger house a probability. Instead, the idea of having to shed some books from my shelves is a real possibility in the future.

Whilst i usually repurpose the non-lesfic books i decide not to keep – they make their why to charity or friends and family, i’m always loathed to do this with LGBTQIA+ books. I think i have an underlying disquiet that these books won’t find their true audience and the hardwork and perseverance that goes into getting quality LGBTQIA+ books into the wider world won’t be appreciated.

And so the question remains – what will i do in the future when i run out of space for my book habit?

But then as if by magic i found my answer. I stumbled upon an Instagram post from an organisation called Books Beyond Bars UK, who take LGBTQIA+ book donations (amongst other types) in order to send them free of charge, to incarcerated LGBTQIA+ people across the United Kingdom.

Books Beyond Bars are able to receive letters from LGBTQIA+ people in prison in the UK stating what kinds of books they want and need. They then try to meet requests as closely as possible based on genre and type from the books donated.

The Books Beyond Bars UK project was launched due to the success of their sister project in the US, LGBT Books to Prisoners, which to date has sent around 8,000 book parcels to incarcerated people across the US.

Whilst i’m yet to donate any books, in the future when i do run out of room, i think i’ll be making use of this organisation. It would appear to be a proactive way of redistributing LGBTQIA+ literature to individuals who are actively seeking it and at a time when those people may need it the most. It’ll be a bonus that as i say goodbye to each book, another LGBTQIA+ individual is about to start their own journey through its pages.

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