[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]oronto’s wee little Story Pod has great ambitions: bringing an entire community together through the act of exchanging books. In a digital age where we buy our books on Amazon.com and turn pages by swiping on an iPad, it’s nice to know that some people are choosing to read (books) the old-fashioned way.

The Story Pod is a five-month-old lending library located in Newmarket, a suburb just north of Toronto. Designed by architecture studio Atelier Kastelic Buffey, the open-air structure offers shelves of books, built-in seating and an interior that invites members of the public to sit, interact and read.



A staff member opens the pavilion each morning – the two walls pivoting outwards to mimic the opening of a book. Vertical plastic-backed slats allow light to stream in, while keeping books safe from the elements. People are free to take books home or leave their own behind. At dusk, the pavilion is closed and locked, and solar-powered LED lights illuminate the Story Pod, making it a striking night-time feature.

Since its opening, the locals have donated many new books, and Wednesday night story sessions have drawn large crowds. “We hope these types of events help foster a love of reading, and draw the community together as they share in these special moments of exchange,” says Aaron Finbow, one of the architects who worked on the project. The Story Pod is currently in storage for the winter, but it will be brought out again once spring arrives.


Where you can go to exchange books in Singapore.

01: BOOKS & BEER As the name suggests, this travelling book swop brings people together over tomes (mostly mainstream fiction) and ice-cold beer. Their free events are held six to 12 times a year, with an average turnout of about 70 participants.

02: 81 WOLSKEL ROAD Over two years ago, wedding planner Bryan Lim decided to start A Little Free Library right outside his house. This sleepy Serangoon neighbourhood has since been steamed up, with the likes of the 50 Shades trilogy making its rounds.

03: NOVELINKED This free book-sharing app was launched in December last year by a Singapore-based developer, to encourage people to recycle books and make new friends. It is expected to have 25,000 users across Asia by this June.