Write a Nice Letter and Leave it in a Book for a Stranger to Find

I first learned of this idea on a “Kind Acts” suggestion page on Google. Afterward, I experienced the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon — when you hear of something once and afterward, it seems as if you keep hearing about it — when multiple readers told me they already did or want to follow through with this idea.

As an English major, who absolutely loves to read and considers spending hours in “Barnes & Noble” to be heaven, I found the idea of leaving a nice note in a book for a stranger to find ideal.

I’d been putting this one off for a bit because I didn’t know what to say in the note or what book I would leave it in. Then the other day, I decided to just go for it; one of my all-time favorite books is “Wuthering Heights,” so I figured I would personalize the note toward that book, grabbed a pink piece of paper and, once I started writing, began rambling on for nearly a full page.  You guys can read this sporadic rant in the photos above.

I folded up the note, brought it with me, and after I went to buy flowers for another bucket list project, decided to stop at Barnes & Noble, where I carried out the task. I asked a worker where I could find a copy of Wuthering Heights and she directed me to the classics section.

It’s funny how sometimes when trying to do a nice thing, you feel sneaky or like a thief. I grabbed the book and walked down one of the aisles where no one seemed to be hanging out, so a store clerk wouldn’t wonder why the heck I was slipping a piece of paper that might be litter into a book.

Unfortunately, some forethought might have been better, but because I’m a put-the-circle-in-the-square kind of girl, I didn’t consider how I should’ve written the note on a much smaller piece of paper that didn’t need to be folded. While I tried to fold it as best I could, so someone wouldn’t notice when buying or selling the book, it was so big that it still stuck out a bit.

Even so, I figured that if a store clerk finds it, all he or she can do is think it’s a nice idea and maybe keep the note for himself or herself, unless it gets thrown out first. Still, I hope to continue writing these notes in the future, maybe for some books at the school library, as I think it’s a nice concept; at least I know I would enjoy finding a nice note in a library or store-bought book.

So has anyone else done something similar or want to add this one to his or her bucket list? I’d love to hear from you guys!

And just a reminder that there’s currently an August Giveaway going on, so please check it out if you want to enter to win fun prizes!

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195 Responses to Write a Nice Letter and Leave it in a Book for a Stranger to Find

  1. the writer says:

    I’ve truly enjoyed reading your blog! I have just nominated you for the Shine On award. Follow the link for details. Cheers 🙂 http://womeninchange.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/shine-on-award/

  2. Lotus Mama says:

    What a wonderful gift someone will receive. A perfect, random act of kindness!

    On another ‘note’, a little while back, I received a pay-it-forward gift. Not sure if this is already on your bucket list of nice things to do for others, but I absolutely love the idea. One of my patients sent me a very detailed thank you note along with a $20 bill to use as I saw fit. I then sent my own thank you to her. My first instinct was to send another thank you letter and pass along the money to a lovely person I met while travelling in Yellowknife, NWT with my husband. And so I did. She was a warm soul that I encountered during a particularly difficult time in my life (having just lost my father and given birth to my daughter days later). She made such a difference just by her heartfelt welcome to her hometown. She later told me that she had taken her closest girlfriends out for a nice tea together. How lovely is that?

  3. carabensonphotography says:

    That is such a wonderful idea! I would love to receive a letter like that whilst reading a book. More people should do that (:

  4. mandala56 says:

    I started last night at my library job! I didn’t leave full-length letters, but I left random notes in several books, most of them in the kids’ section.
    I left a note that said “Bring me my swan costume”- Anna Pavlova in a ballet book on the page that referenced her.
    And some notes about how great certain books were. I’ll do more of these, I’m sure. It really breaks up the monotony of shelving. I can imagine doing something longer for an adult. Such a great idea. I’ve only ever left notes in Gideon Bibles in motels up til now (usually the lyrics to Rocky Raccoon). This is very fun.

  5. I LOVE this! What a gorgeous idea. I am definitely going to do this. There is no better feeling then making someone smile.
    Thank you for this xx

  6. Krissy says:

    I’m going to do this! 🙂 I think I’ll leave mine in a library book though. That’ll give them something to hang onto even when they have to return the book at some point. ♥ Also, I really need to read Wuthering Heights. Emily’s sister, Charlotte is one of my favorite authors (I love Jane Eyre!), so I’d like to read her book at some point. ♥

    • Aw I’m really glad to hear that! But yes, I think a library book would be perfect 🙂 I LOVE Jane Eyre also – really anything by the Brontes, lol.

      • Krissy says:

        Have you read any of Anne’s work yet? She’s the least popular of the sisters. I’m not sure if that’s because she’s less well known or just wasn’t as good at writing. She’s on my to read list as well!

  7. mandala56 says:

    You should read Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares. It’s a young adult book about these two teens who meet up because one of them found a note written by the other one in a book… it’s really good! Maybe you can leave a note in that book! It’s by Rachel Cohn.

  8. I hope to find a note tucked inside a book someday!

  9. Pingback: Who knew kindness could be so sneaky | Happiness in 3 Steps

  10. What a lovely idea! I am totally doing this. I’ve actually never read Wuthering Heights, but I read Jane Eyre every couple of years ,those Bronte sisters so good!
    Thank you for visiting my blog 🙂

  11. I have done so many things just randomly in life and for the fun of it, but never sat down and made a bucket list. Today is going to be the day I get started on it. Glad I stopped by and checked this out.

  12. i like this idea very much. I will be using it at my first opportunity!

    \o/

  13. cheekynikki says:

    Absolutely love this!! Thinking of doing this myself on my next run to the bookstore 😀

  14. Pingback: Piddocks, Random Notes, and Pinterest | Jeanne Kasten Studio

  15. k.elizabeth says:

    I think this is such a great idea. I just read a newspaper story about a woman who received a really nasty letter from an anonymous neighbour, telling her to move because of her disabled son. Earlier this summer a couple in my city received anonymous letters telling them to move ‘or suffer the consequences’ because they were gay. Obviously these types of letters cause a lot of hurt, but it’s uplifting to think that yours might cause an equal amount of happiness.

    • Wow, that’s awful about these nasty letters. How sad these poor people have to deal with those. But hopefully they’ll begin to receive positive letters as well and good karma will come their way 🙂

  16. tideeyed says:

    There is a video on YouTube that a guy did for Esther Day (to honor Esther Earl, and the TSWGO Foundation) where he asked people for pictures of them shaping their hands into “heart shapes”, and he made a ton of little cards that simply said “You are loved.” I thought it was a great idea. To remind people that someone out there loves them, and honor the memory of someone else at the same time. He put the cards in books, which is right up my alley! 🙂

    Here’s the vid:

  17. poppyjocat says:

    ive done this now, 4 little letters in a bookshop in Cumbria! 🙂

  18. That’s a great idea!! I have gotten into the habit of writing little messages on the back of coasters whenever I go out to eat and then popping them under all the other new ones. I guess I could fit a lot more in a book!!! Lol…

  19. Reblogged this on Perception Sensorielle and commented:
    OMG! I found someone else who kinda thinks like I do… I’ve been getting into the habit of leaving little messages on the back of drink coasters whenever I go out to eat somewhere and then tucking them back in with all the unused ones so that some random person can find it. I kind of wonder what they think when they do actually find them (if they don’t get thrown out by wait staff). Have you ever done anything similar?

  20. What a lovely idea. Will do this in our public library!

  21. Reblogged this on freed from the matrix and commented:
    This is a wonderful idea. To add, maybe it might also be interesting to specifically target self-help books or books on depression or cancer and tailor the letter a bit more specifically to that topic. Or target a book that you’ve read and share some thoughts on it.

  22. Definitely adding this to my bucket list!

  23. optimisticgladness says:

    Yep! Love this idea! It would be like finding a buried treasure if someone found a handwritten note in a book. Very cool.

  24. Pingback: Letter to a stranger | Lead Challenge Inspire

  25. whatagirlwants1965 says:

    Reblogged this on What A Girl Wants 1965.

  26. I remember feeling like I struck leprechaun’s gold every time I found someone else’s library receipt in a borrowed book. It felt like I was peeping in on a stranger’s innermost thoughts and desires.

  27. I think it is an excellent idea.

  28. lkwatts67 says:

    Great idea…i may do this while hotelling during an upcoming trip!

  29. Finding Damo says:

    Now I have a name for the coincidence syndrome! I’ve written about that a lot on my blog. Thanks for that and for the letter idea.

  30. Andy Oldham says:

    This is a great idea!

  31. Andy Oldham says:

    Thank, too, for following my blog!

  32. I used to do this when I was in College. The trail got picked up, soon the librarian had a tough time checking to see if the returned books had notes in them. It became a trend, and then somebody decided to answer those yellow post-it’s that I left, and the college paper started a column based on the inspiration.

    TQ for the memories & following 😉
    Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année

  33. What a great idea! I was thinking of doing a similar thing with the book exchanges hostels. Very inspiring blog 🙂

  34. macjam47 says:

    What a fantastic idea! I will definitely give it a try.

  35. it’s a lovely idea but what would you say in a note to someone you don’t know? Just general good wishes?

  36. I love this idea. it looks like a lot of people do. So how is it I have yet to receive a note like this in any book I buy? I will start writing my notes today! Thank you.

  37. Anna Elizabeth says:

    I think I may add this to my bucket list 🙂 I love your blog and thanks for the follow!!

  38. I may have to do this along with compiling a bucket list.

  39. Victoria says:

    I’ve done something similar to this quite a few times. I leave notes in the books in my university library, normally when I think it’ll help with a certain topic at university for someone else, save them some time. But I love how you’ve done it, even better.

  40. ziggy317 says:

    Saw a movie called The Letter Writer which inspired me to write encouraging letters to strangers. Seeing the confusion, then appreciation in their eyes makes my day. Times like that I understand why “it is better to give than to receive.” Thanks for encouraging us to give!

  41. Pingback: Kind Acts Bucket List | Turquoise Compass

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