Sharing our love of reading

The Commuting Book is a community-based organisation run by avid readers and volunteers, that aims to promote an appreciation and love of reading as a source of knowledge and entertainment by bringing literature to public spaces and in 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 want to encourage and engage the community in reading by finding new ways to make books and stories more available to many people, by using public spaces in unusual ways, that create opportunities to tempt non-readers and to engage those who have not read a book in a long while or don’t have the time.

To carry out our goals we have devised the following 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 of New Zealand authors of all ages and stages of development.

The focus on storytelling, public spaces and public transport is not accidental or capricious. Our passion for reading added to a background in social sciences and sustainable development helped us shape our vision not only for our project but also for the cities we want to live in: engaged citizens interacting in open, lively spaces.

Welcome to The Commuting Book!


In the Media and Awards


Charity Services Registration Number CC54587

Scan & Read

We realised that public and common areas were the ideal environment to communicate our message and to share our love for reading, but quickly noticed that distributing books for free was not enough. We needed something else that we could easily place anywhere, that contains a story and that can be accessed by hundreds and thousands of people.

For this, we decided to go for a simple concept, that uses technology already available and can be applied to different interfaces. The Scan & Read concept is replicable, versatile, low cost, multi-functional and an innovative platform with the double function of supporting the work of New Zealand authors and reaching those who have not the time to read and those who do not read in the hope that they will find the experience exciting.


  • To showcase stories from authors of all ages and stages of development: from the well known to the young and unpublished and also, for example, competition winners and runners up.
  • To promote reading in general and New Zealand literature in particular.
  • To engage non-readers with reading by offering short stories that can be read in approximately 20 minutes.
  • To help authors to reach large numbers of readers, outside bookshops and libraries, on the public space, while people go about their daily activities.
  • 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 unique QR Codes located in a variety of interfaces.
  • People coming across the QR Codes have exclusive access to the stories by scanning the code. The Codes are updated on regular basis with new material to read.
  • Once published and replaced with new material, stories do not disappear. They are moved to another QR code located at other interfaces (under development) giving the writers the chance to be seen by an even greater public. After a time they become open to all public and searchable on our website that will function as a repository.

We have lots of ideas for the near future. We want to extend the Scan & Read project to commuting trains, tourist trains, tourist buses, domestic flights, ferries, park benches, hospital beds, waiting lounges and cafes. We are already working on some of these ideas, but we are focusing on buses and bus stops (rest of 2018)

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


  • To enhance the commuting and travelling experience by providing a new onboard service that will help to promote the concept that commuting time is not wasted time, but a great time to read, relax and learn something new.
  • To bring attention to bus stops (next step) as social hubs by providing an interactive feature that will engage not only passengers waiting for the bus but also passersby. And to add colour and a warmer atmosphere to ease the wait in the hope that opportunities will arise for people to engage in conversation.



Read & Share

Read and Share is an ongoing action initiated in November 2016 and since then +1500 books have been received and distributed at 50+ bus stops around Christchurch.  Writers, publishers, book organisations and the public donate books, we apply a sticker on the book cover identifying the project and distribute the books at bus stops, on board buses and waiting lounges around the city and publish pictures in social media. When members of the public find the books, they take them home and returned after reading 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, increase the demand for NZ books and books in general, encourage more people to visit local bookshops, increase participation in local events (e.g: WORD Christchurch Festival), and stimulate more people to sign up for creative writing courses

The Great Map of NZ Stories

Help us build a map! We are mapping real places in New Zealand mentioned in books. Rivers, mountains, towns and cities, famous buildings and monuments and any other spot we can add on a map. Add a book in a few simple steps. Go to MAP PAGE