Today is the anniversary of the launch of the American spacecraft Voyager One in 1977. Its mission was to reach Jupiter and then continue to the farthest limits of our solar system and, if possible, beyond. On board Voyager is a gold-plated disc with a recorded message from planet Earth. The disc begins with a brief message that is translated into fifty-five different languages; however, the message that follows, from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, is relayed in a single language: English (1).
Travelling farther away from Earth than any other human-made object, Voyager is the ultimate message in a bottle, carrying the 12-inch golden record that contains recorded sound and pictures. Someday this recording might just be the first glimpse an alien race gets of life and culture on planet Earth. For more details on Voyager and the contents of the Golden Record, visit the NASA's Voyager web site.
Back on Earth another message in a bottle project has been going on since April 2001 when Ron Hornbaker founded BookCrossing.com. Taking the idea of PhotoTag.org, a site that tracks disposable cameras, and WheresGeorge.com, which tracks U.S. currency, Hornbaker had the idea of creating a site where readers could register a book and then deposit it in some public place: a park bench, a laundromat, or a coffee shop. The BookCrossing.com website provides an ID number for each book and a registration card that can be attached to the inside cover of the book. The card briefly explains the BookCrossing mission and directs finders of books to the online journal page of the website where they can document where and how they found the book and, if they read it, what they thought of the book.
To date nearly half a million people have become bookcrossers. The practice has become so popular that it has been added as a word in the August 2004 edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary:
bookcrossing n. the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.
Below is the list of the current top five most registered titles:
1. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
2. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
3. The Lovely Bones: A Novel by Alice Sebold
4. A Painted House by John Grisham
5. The Pelican Brief by John Grisham (2).
Today's Challenge: If You Love Your Book, Let Them Go!
Write your own literary message in a bottle. If you were to select on book title that you would consider releasing to the world, which book would it be? And what brief note would you write inside the book to entice the reader to take the time to read it?
Quote of the Day: A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold. --Henry Miller
1 - McCrum, Robert, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil. The Story of English. New York: Penguin Books, 1987.