Never judge a book by… their facial tattoos?

An environmentalist and a climate change denier walk into a bar… what happens next? Your classic fisticuffs pub brawl? A flat-out argument that bystanders eagerly video to post on their snapchat stories? A frothy pint thrown in the others face? Or maybe a civilised conversation in which they share their life stories over a drink in order to understand the origin of the others view point…?

Heineken’s ‘Open Your World’ campaign video suggests that this unusual coupling can end with the last option.

Having joined with ‘The Human Library’ charity, Heineken aims to show that more unites than divides us by gathering a diverse group of individuals in bars across the UK to become human books and tell their unique stories. Imagine an audiobook that the reader can interact with; questions are key to this concept. For example, haven’t you always wanted to ask Dumbledore how he maintains such a silky-smooth beard?

Except these books aren’t fantasy, they are real-life stories which often go untold, covering subjects ranging from addiction to mental illness, from naturism to extreme body modification. By creating an opportunity to find out about the human being behind each book cover, it becomes possible to break down barriers formed by prejudice and stereotypes.

It was out of such hatred that the youth movement ‘Stop The Violence’ was born 14 years ago, following a stabbing in Copenhagen. Created by the friends of the victim (Dany Abergel, Asma Mouna, Christoffer Erichsen and Ronni Abergel), the organisation aimed to raise awareness about the growing violence amongst the young people of Denmark and break the cycle of hatred which leads to it. ‘Stop The Violence’ made its debut in 2000 as ‘The Human Library’ at the Roskilde Festival. Stocking its shelves with ‘books’ of varying backgrounds, they hoped to kindly kindle relations between the festival goers.

Years later, the impact of uniting groups who would otherwise never have met has resonated throughout the world, with Human Libraries popping up in over 70 countries. It has been so popular that a Human Library TV series is due to be launched in its country of origin this spring, making it accessible to an even wider audience.

If you want to take a break from your endless reading lists and try a different genre, come along (for free!) to The Human Library at the Crosstown Eatery & Drinkery from 6-10pm on 26 October. Who knows what you might learn when you look beyond the book title?

image: Jacob Skaaning via flickr 

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