Sharing our love of reading

The Commuting Book aims to promote an appreciation and love of reading, as a source of knowledge and entertainment. We are a community-based organisation bringing literature to public spaces and people’s daily activities.

Storytelling and reading are skills for life, and the importance of books and literature, in general, has been widely researched and documented. We encourage and engage the community in reading, by finding new ways to make books and stories available, and by using public spaces in new and surprising ways. We wish to create these opportunities for non-readers too,  or those that have not read a book in a long time or who simply don’t have the time to read.

With this in mind we have devised the following ‘cunning’ plans:

a) Distribution of free books on public transport;
b) Promotion and development of community spaces/interventions in urban settings to connect people, through words, in books and stories;
c) Design of innovative platforms and creation of interactive installations, using technology, to support, publish and disseminate works by New Zealand authors of all ages and stages in their writing careers.

The focus on storytelling, public spaces and public transport is neither accidental nor capricious. A passion for reading, combined with a  background in social sciences and sustainable development, helped shape a vision, not only for this project but also for the future city we want to live in: a place of engaged citizens interacting,  with open, lively spaces.

Welcome to The Commuting Book!

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In the Media and Awards

Christchurch woman turning commute into journey through New Zealand literature (One News)
Christchurch Buses Equipped with Quick Mobile Links to Kiwi Stories (
ReadNZ: The Commuting Book is bringing literature to public transport (NZBC)
Bookmark your spot on the bus (CCC)
The Big Idea: Lowdown #16: Guest Editor! (The Big Idea)
Massive literacy gap plugged by moving literature (The Big Idea story)
Getting on the map – places from New Zealand books (Standing Room Only RNZ)
Awesome Story #1 Feat: Magda Lorenzo (Ministry of Awesome)
Parry Field Change for Good Interview


Charity Services Registration Number CC54587

Project: Scan & Read

We realised that public and common areas were the ideal environment to communicate our message and to share our love of reading, but quickly noticed that distributing books for free was not enough. We needed something else. Something that could be accessed by hundreds and thousands of people. Something replicable, versatile, low cost and multi functional.

Scan & Read is all of this and more. We have developed an innovative platform, with the double function of making short works of prose and poetry accessible to the public, especially to those for whom a longer work, such as a book, might be daunting. And we are proud to also use this platform to support and promote New Zealand writers.


  • To promote reading in general and New Zealand literature in particular.
  • To engage non-readers by offering short pieces of writing that can be read in a single sitting (even on the bus!)
  • To help authors to reach large numbers of readers, outside of bookshops and libraries, in public spaces, by people going about their normal daily lives.
  • To showcase stories from authors of all ages and stages of development: from the well-known and well-published, to the young, up-and-coming, and unpublished. We will also feature competition winners and runners up.
  • To support the #readNZ campaign

How does it work?

    • The Commuting Book will source short stories, essays and poems from New Zealand writers.
    • Each story is uploaded onto a unique QR Code located in a variety of places.
    • People coming across a QR Code has exclusive access to a story by scanning the code. The Codes are updated on a regular basis with new material for our readers.
    • Once replaced with new material, stories do not disappear. They are moved to another QR code (at a different location) giving the writer an opportunity to be seen, and read, by an even larger community of readers. After a time stories will become open to all and searchable on our website.

    In the near future we hope to extend the Scan & Read project to commuting trains, tourist trains, tourist buses, domestic flights, ferries, park benches, hospital beds, waiting lounges, and cafes. Buses and bus stops are our pilot project, if you will.

    Stories on the Go is our first Scan & Read project:


    • To enhance the commuting and travelling experience, by providing a new service that will help to promote the idea that commuting time is not wasted time, but a great opportunity to read, relax, and encounter new ideas and language.
    • To bring attention to bus stops as social hubs, by providing an interactive feature that will engage not only passengers waiting for the bus but also passersby.
    • To add colour and a warmer atmosphere to waiting areas and buses, to ease waiting time and to encourage conversations about reading.

Take a look at some of the STORIES and meet the AUTHORS


Project: Read & Share

Read and Share is an ongoing project initiated in November 2016. Since then The Commuting Book has distributed more than 1500 books around Christchurch. Writers, publishers, organisations, and members of the public donate books. We apply a sticker on the book cover with information about The Commuting Book, and distribute the books at bus stops, on board buses, and in waiting lounges around the city. We also publish pictures on social media to raise the profile of books in circulation with The Commuting Book. When members of the public find the books, they take them home and, when they have finished reading, can return Commuting Books to their local bus stop for others to enjoy.


  • To create opportunities for people to engage in reading
  • To add value to the commuting experience
  • To potentially gain new library subscribers and users, and in time increase the demand for NZ books and books in general.
  • To encourage people to visit local bookshops and increase participation in local events (e.g: WORD Christchurch Festival).
  • To inspire people to write down their own stories, and to develop their work by joining local writing communities and signing up for creative writing courses.

We have now added a new feature: Bonus Read. A sticker, with a QR code, will be added to the inside cover of Commuting Books, giving readers access to a Scan & Read story.

Project: The Great Map of NZ Stories

Help us build a map! We are mapping real places in New Zealand that are mentioned in books. Rivers, mountains, towns and cities, famous buildings and monuments, and any other spot mentioned in literature, that we can identify on a map. Add a NZ location, mentioned in a book, in a few simple steps.