Books on the Underground – Interview



Hi Books on the Underground,

For anyone not familiar with what you do, tell us a little about yourself and Books on the Underground

 I’m Hollie, I’m 28. I moved to London 6 years ago after graduating from university and I’m originally from Lincolnshire. I left university adamant that I was going to get a job as a Creative in an Advertising agency, and after 2 years of going from agency to agency I now find myself working at Leo Burnett London, where I have been for the last 3 years. I started BOTU back in November 2012 and I genuinely just thought I’d be doing it for myself and no one would ever find out. So I’m really glad that word’s go out. I think that the more people hear about it the more natural it will be to leave and share books on the tube. At first I thought I would only leave ‘good’ books. But really, who can judge what’s a good book. Millions of people ride the London underground everyday and we all have different tastes, so who am I to judge what the public want to read. It’s normally fiction, or aims to be an entertaining read, because at the end of the day Books on the Underground is all about making your journey a bit more interesting than normal. When I started, I said if just one person finds a book and tweets I’ll have succeeded, so I’m over the moon that so many people now know about it and not only that, want to get involved.


Books on the Underground is an interesting concept – How did the idea come about?

I just love reading. I have about an hour commute to work everyday, from Dalston to West Kensington, so reading is a nice escape for me. I love being recommended a book and I have always loved passing on great books to my friends. One day I finished the book I was reading on the tube and just thought what a lovely surprise it would be for the next person to find. That day I didn’t leave my book, because I realised there were a lot of hurdles to overcome and also I didn’t want it to be just a book out in the world alone, I wanted it to be part of something bigger. So I designed and printed the Books on the Underground stickers and that’s how it started.

What has been your favourite book that you have left on the underground and why?

I don’t know if I can decide, I’ve left so many great books on the tube it’s hard to pick. If I had to, I’d say my most favourite book I’ve ever left on the tube is Wonder by RJ Palacio. Simply because it’s such an inspiring story and a brilliant perspective on life, I think as a Londoner it can make you think differently about how you perceive people on the tube everyday. But also, I tied it in with National anti-bullying week so it felt special.

Has anyone ever approached you when you have been leaving the books? What has been the strangest interaction you’ve had when leaving books?

People give me weird looks on a daily basis now. But I like it, because I know when I step off the tube they’ll pick up that book that I’ve left behind and they’ll feel that bit happier than they did before. I’m not sure I’ve had any really strange interactions, I did get in to a very long conversation with an old gentleman who was pretty hard of hearing and he thought I had written the book. It was quite a long conversation that ended up nowhere! I just pointed towards the sticker in the end and hoped for the best.


Can anyone get involved with Books on the Underground? And if so, how?

People can get involved in lots of ways. Readers can apply for stickers through the website, and authors and publishers can get involved by sending books which I will distribute for them on the tube.

That sounds great! We see you have also set up your own book club, #UndergroundBookClub – How is this going?

Yes! I’ve just launched a Book Club. It seemed like the most natural place to take the project. I was worried no one would come but we’ve had two meetings so far and we’ve got a little gang of about 12 of us who catch up and chat books. It’s lovely to meet new people and bring together different people from all over London.


How exciting! Can anyone join the #UndergroundBookClub? If so, how?

Anyone can join, just as long as you’ve read the book, you can come along. It’s not about being a literature buff or massively intellectual, it’s just about sharing our mutual love of books. Just drop an email to and we can add you to our mailing list.


What are your top 3 favourite books and why?

This is the hardest question. I’m going to just go for the first three that come my to mind right now. Which are:

The Book Thief by Mark Zusak

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe

And lastly, what can we expect next from Books on the Underground?

Well, that would be telling. I have an idea in the pipeline that is very exciting. I like to keep a bit of surprise around it so I won’t give up the gab (mainly because I need to make sure I can pull it off first) but I can tell you that you might be interested if you’re a writer 😉

Thanks Hollie and the team at Books on the Underground.

You can follow all of the BOTU activity over on Twitter 

Have you found a Books on the Underground book? Let us know!

2 thoughts on “Books on the Underground – Interview

  1. Hi there, I stumbled across BOTU a while back on Twitter and sent them a couple of copies of my book. I hope to see them riding the tube soon. Excited to see what Hollie comes up with next 🙂

    1. Hi Alan,

      That’s great to hear! It’s a fantastic way to get your books out there and such a great feeling when you find one yourself.

      We’ll be sure to keep you updated with what Hollie has up her sleeve next!

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