BookCrossing is a website that allows total strangers to share their books by releasing them 'into the wild', or in other words, abandoning them in public places for other people to enjoy. If all goes well, the new owners also visit the website to inform members of the book's continuing adventures. The site has been running for ten years, and boasts 963,519 members with 8,214,949 books on the loose throughout 132 countries.
To participate, go to www.bookcrossing.com/, register yourself and your book, and print out a label containing an individual code. Now you're free to choose a spot for your book. A word of warning, BookCrossing recommends against security-conscious zones such as train stations and airports.
After some deliberation, I left my copy of John Banville's The Sea in a bus shelter on Sydney Road, Brunswick. When I passed the spot half an hour later, it was gone! I'm now eagerly awaiting its reappearance, but if I never find out where it ended up, I'll have all the fun of wondering.
There's something very liberating about the process, whether it's the playful, treasure-hunt aspect or the simple satisfaction of letting a possession go. Why not brighten up a stranger's day with a mysterious free book?