Montserrat Martin-1692008974785
Dubai-based Montserrat Martin says a little effort in carrying books while travelling goes a long way in helping those who do not have access to books. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A Dubai-based book lover is out to make ‘Travelling Heroes’ out of UAE residents.

Revealing details about her novel initiative to Gulf News, Spanish expat Montserrat Martin, who runs the popular café and bookstore Book Hero, said, “The idea came from the sheer love to promote reading. A few summers ago, we had so many books inside our warehouse, and we thought it would be fantastic if holidaymakers could go the extra mile to take our books to their travelling destinations where books are not easy to find.”

She said, “Some less fortunate people have difficulties accessing books, which is why we thought of starting the initiative. We could all do much better by sharing a little effort. Why not become a little hero when going on holiday? Carry some books, spread the goodwill and be contagious?”

Martin said all that one needed to do was to get in touch with her, let her know where they are traveling to, what kind of books they need, who they plan to give the books to, how many kilos of the books they would like to carry and so on.

“We will provide the books totally free of cost to the Travelling Heroes. We have all kinds of books – fiction, non-fiction, academic books – basically any type of book that could help the receiving entity,” she said.

But how does she ensure these books reach the right beneficiaries?

“Genuinely, we just trust the travelers willing to take the books. We only ask them who will be the receiving parties, such as NGOs, schools, associations, photos of the place, people receiving the books, etc. That’s as much as we can do, besides keeping the trust and faith.”

Some beneficiaries of the 'Travelling Hero' initiative in Kenya. Image Credit: Supplied

Martin, who feels strongly about reading, said, “Physical books continue to have a sentimental reward among humans, and we feel great by having them around us, but how much reading people do now versus in the past, I believe it could be less. Constant multitasking and exposure to digital bombardment have a solid attribute to this result.”

She said research has revealed that children in the West are reading less than ever before. One study showed that just 26 per cent of under-18s spent some time each day reading. So every effort, however small, that can contribute towards changing this trend mattered.

“There are endless benefits to why reading should be fomented. It increases knowledge and vocabulary, widens our imagination, expands our intelligence, boosts our brain power and helps us relax, among other benefits. It is certainly worth prioritising this activity as part of our daily habits,” she said.

Besides vacationers, even those undertaking business trips can carry books for those who need them at their destinations. In fact, they tend to travel light and can carry more books.

But what about the cost of carrying the books? Who bears them?

“No cost should exist, as long as the books fit within the airline’s travel weight allowance. The shipping cost is covered by the person traveling,” she said, noting that some Travelling Heroes wishing to stretch their generosity to take more books actually end up paying excess baggage.

“As far as a book lover is concerned, just watching someone’s facial expression when receiving a book is itself a rewarding memory to keep,” she added.