Another reader, Sharon Suen Sau-man, also 19, believes that each book has its own unique character. “I think no matter which book I read, I will have new insights,” says Suen.
Although some books may feel tired after going through a few reading sessions, readers are still hungry for more and long for extra opportunities to read living books.
Suen thinks the 45-minute time slot is too short for readers to have in-depth conversations with the books.
“If it were a [conventional] book, I would have plenty of time to read and finish it, but witha person, I am not able to digest and understand all his stories,” says Suen. She hopes that any future Human Libraries could provide more time for readers to read more books.
Choi Chi-hau, 28, the founder and co-ordinator of Lawnmap, a project encouraging people to map and share data about grassy areas in Hong Kong, is one of the volumes in the Human Library.
Choi finds he is physically exhausted after the two-hour intensive sharing. However, he also feels spiritual contentment as the event gives him a chance to systematically tell others what he is working on.
“I think everyone has life experiences that others do not have or are unaware of,” he says. Compared with the books of minorities, Choi may not be the most striking or sensational book, but he promises to serve as a living book so he can share his values and his stories of organizing “green revolutions”.
Leung Pak-kin, 40, chief editor of Breakazine!, and one of the organizers, found that living books get tired after sharing their stories three times in a row, while readers cannot concentrate and listen seriously for more than three hours at a time. To savethe living books from exhaustion, they are only allowed to share their stories three times in three hours.
Leung says that every time readers dig into the lives of the living books, the living books will look into their own lives when telling their stories, giving them a chance to reflect.
Although he was one of the first organisers of the event, Leung hopes others will step up and hold more events. “We hope it will be like a movement, with more people organizing Human Library in their own network,” says Leung.
Hopefully, the more people and organisations are involved, the more diverse the participants will be because, as Leung points out, different social groups have their own set of prejudices.
“I think the concept of Human Library can be very diverse,” says Benson Tsang Chi-ho, a 40-year-old interior designer who integrates the concept of the Human Library into his social campaigns. He organises participants in his activities into groups to talk directly with vagrants in order to know more about their lives.
Tsang notes that many people now communicate with each other using electronic devices, even if they are sitting or standing next to each other. He is pleased to see the Human Library bringing people back to basics when it comes to communication.
Tsang has been both a reader and a living book and finds his experience of being a living book more fascinating.
“It is interesting to tell your story again and again, and actually whenever you say it, it strengthens your own belief,” says Tsang. “By answering readers’ questions, you are like doing a review on yourself. It actually helps you.” Tsang explains being a book gives him an opportunity to evaluate himself, to see if he can improve.