Nadim Hajjar and Raoul Gharios, two France transplants of Lebanese origins, have been shooting candid photos of random street encounters and publishing them for years, when they decided to take their passion for street photography to the next level.
‘Every day, we meet thousands of people in the streets or on metro stations, we look at them with the urge to speak to them, know what runs in their heads, what they think of the books they’re reading; people of all styles and colors, and from whom we are only separated with a barrier. Read My Book is the photography project that will allow us to break such barriers and talk to readers wherever we encounter them’.
With such a vision in mind, Read My Book was born in early 2015, as a platform that shares the photos of randomly encountered readers in France, where the founders reside, and tells their personal stories reading their books; why is the book of their interest, and why or why not it should be our next read.
‘We got inspired by the review post-it that some libraries use to help us decide on what books to buy. So if you’re looking for your next book, Read My Book is made to inspire you through something very tempting’, says Nadim.
As the platform aggregates more data on books and their reviews, this project may be not too far from being turned into a commercial platform for online book sales and reviews; something like Goodreads, Kobo, amazon, or e-bay.
However, ‘The main differentiating point of Read My Book is that we are interested in the person reading the book, not just by their review. We’re looking for stories and people who can inspire the community. But our database is growing fast, and we may consider using services that could be of added value on the commercial side in the near future as well; who knows’, adds Nadim.
The project may hence be rather closer in its photography nature to Humans of New York, one of TIME’s 100 most influential figures in the world for 2014, started in 2010 by New York photographer Brandon Stanton, as a passion to hear about people stories;
‘Humans of New York is one of the most inspiring photography projects ever. They got interested by people they shot, “regular” people that we cross everyday. They democratised photography. Readmybook is still at its beginnings, we hope that one day we’ll be able to become as influential as Humans of New York. As we focus on growing in France, further growth steps hopefully await’.
The project currently has three main ways to grow and be reached: a website, instagram, and a twitter account; and of course your word of mouth. You can also expect to be handed a @ReadMyBook bookmark if you were ever crossed reading by Nadim or Raoul.
While the stories are currently communicated in the French language, Hajjar and Gharios understood a need to turn their communication to English, and are now working on an English version of the project’s description and translating all the published posts to English. You can expect to see every book post from now on in both French and English.
As two Lebanese folks who grew up in an Arab world where reading is not a ‘top hobby’ in the culture, moving to France helped the founders discover the joy and the importance of reading.
‘Our aim is also to transfer this passion to our compatriots. For the record, we already shot two persons we met randomly in Paris and Vienna reading books involving Lebanese characters.’
Project can be reached here: