Emma Watson is hiding copies of The Handmaid’s Tale around Paris

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This ^^ is Emma Watson in Miu Miu at the Paris premiere for The Circle. I chose this picture because I like the dress in motion. I don’t like it as much standing still. You can see more photos of it here. What else did Emma do while she was in Paris? She hid books for others to find:

I cannot believe I have never heard of The Book Fairies before! I remember when Emma was promoting Beauty and the Beast I read about her leaving books in the New York subway and I thought, “well that’s cute.” But I didn’t know it was a thing. Now that I know it’s a thing – I am giddy with excitement. Emma, who has her own feminist book club called Our Shared Shelf, is once again spreading some literary – and feminist – love around. This time it’s in the form of The Handmaid’s Tale in and around The City of Lights with personalized notes – in French, no less – to those lucky enough to find one.

Emma Watson famously played a princess on the big screen, but in real life she’s a fairy — a book fairy, to be exact. 

The British actress joined forces with The Book Fairies, an international organization of volunteers who anonymously leave second-hand or donated books in public spaces, to hide free copies of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” around Paris on Wednesday and Thursday. 

The ‘Beauty and the Beast” actress took to Twitter to announce that she had teamed up with the organization to give away 100 copies of the novel by hiding them at various spots in the city.

Watson also included handwritten French notes in each individual copy. Needless to say, fans of the “Harry Potter” star were thrilled.

According to the website, there have been about 50,000 books shared by more than 5,000 “book fairies” in 100 countries. To become a book fairy, all you need is some books, some stickers and a willingness to share the knowledge.


[From CNN]

When Emma was leaving books in the subway, it was for the organization Books on the Underground. Both Books on the Underground and The Book Fairies tell you how to hide books properly. Emma’s copies were new, of course, but yours don’t have to be – you can collect your used copies and join in. I have a stack waiting to go to the library bookstore but I think I might divert them to this instead – I love this idea. (By the way, hospital candy-stripers also greatly appreciate book and magazine donations. Remember your local children’s hospital when your kids outgrow a book.) And of course, the relevance of The Handmaid’s Tale is such a great punctuation to this story. Say what you will about Emma but when she wants to make a point, she has thought it through carefully. I am dying to know what she wrote in her messages.

Monday was the 20th anniversary of the day Harry Potter was released to the world. Twitter exploded in comments from fans and people associated with the book and movies including J.K. Rowling, Daniel Radcliff and Bonnie Wright. But Emma did not post anything (nor did Tom Felton or Rupert Grint, fyi). I guess now we know why. Of course, Hermione would be too caught up in a literary pursuit to remember to tweet!

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Photo credit: Twitter, Instagram and WENN Photos

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67 Responses to “Emma Watson is hiding copies of The Handmaid’s Tale around Paris”

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  1. Crowdhood says:

    I just love who she has become ❤️

  2. LaraK says:

    She’s so consistently great! Love that a child star can grow up to be a grown up star without becoming a colossal mess.

    • my3cents says:

      +1

    • teacakes says:

      To be fair, she was lucky enough to be born to parents who weren’t stage parents and didn’t make her the breadwinner of the family.

      Also Warner Bros shielded those kids something fierce during the Harry Potter years – they were filming in the UK and didn’t really do appearances in the US aside from film promo until they were 18. It was a good strategy, they were still mad levels of famous but they weren’t quite as much under the media spotlight as they would have been otherwise. And the trio all turned out to be fairly well-balanced adults and Dan Radcliffe has earned quite a bit of respect in the post-Potter years.

      • Nicole says:

        This exactly. The company did a good job of protecting them as kids. And while Dan had an issue with alcoholism for a while, overall the cast turned out great with little issues.
        And I love the book fairies in NYC. I’ve gotten a book from them and almost (so close!) got the book emma was leaving here. Someone snagged it a minute before me. It was Angelou so I was disappointed by that one but then I bought my own copy.
        Anyways book fairies are fun and the group will send you stickers for you to leave your own books as well.

      • QueenB says:

        To be fair too, WB didnt do this out of the goodness of their hearts. They knew there were multiple films to be shot so they needed them not to be become drug wrecks. Its was all about money.

        Good point about Emma being from a wealthy family though. I think she tried to talk that down but she is still very class obsessed.

      • teacakes says:

        @Nicole – Dan dealt with his alcohol issues so quietly, no one even knew until after the fact. I guess when we say child actors turned out ok, it has to be taken to mean overall, not that they never had issues.

        @QueenB – I certainly agree that WB was protecting their assets to a degree, but they seem to have been very careful of the children in general – getting Coutts (the Queen’s bankers) in to give them money management lessons at 18, limiting their press availability, staying in the UK- all of those were good moves.

        Everyone makes a fuss over Emma and Natalie Portman turning out so well, but the decks were stacked in their favour from birth, obviously the offspring of lawyers and doctors are not going to live under the same awful financial pressures as, say, Millie’s Bobby Brown or even a young Kirsten Dunst (who had decent parents but was still supporting her family).

  3. Maria F. says:

    very cool idea.

    I live in a small town in Germany and they have a public book shelf at a busy bus stop and people can leave their used books there and look for new ones.

    Funny enough it has yet to be damaged.

    • Sixer says:

      In my village we have a community library in the village hall – there’s a collection box for people to leave spare change when dropping off or taking books and that pays for adding shelving and covering donated books if they’re paperbacks. It’s nice!

      There are lots of mini community libraries set up in the UK in disused telephone boxes too!

    • godwina says:

      Yes, we have those in Ottawa, Canada, too. They’re scattered around the US and Canada, AFAIK.

      Speaking of book fairy-ing and Germany, when I travel I don’t like hauling bricks around (I use an ereader but sometimes leave home with a half-finished print book). So, when I finish, I leave the book with a “please enjoy” note inside. I’ve usually left them on tables in bakeries in Germany, lol. Always hoping them go to a good home.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      I’m in Ontario, Canada and we have little free house-libraries that like large painted birdhouses on posts. Covered due to months of snow. They are adorable!

      • Esmom says:

        We have those here in Chicago, too. My neighborhood in the suburbs has quite a few. I would love to be a Book Fairy, though.

    • India Andrews says:

      There is a public book shelf on the Pacific Crest Trail.

  4. Anya says:

    So, she could not find a french author?
    I mean Simone de Beauvoir is still relevant.

    • Jenny says:

      Yes, but honestly how many regular folks can get through a Simone de Beauvoir without giving up? If your goal is to get people to read more then why hit them in the head with the heaviest literary brick you can find? That is how you discourage reading. Handmaid’s tale has a powerful message and is very well written but is still an engaging story. A good choice even if not French in my opinion. At least Emma went to the trouble to write her notes in French it seems. And French is not, contrary to French belief, still a world language so she should get some cred for that. ;-)

      • Anya says:

        I appreciate her idea and I appreciate her effort to write in french.
        De Beauvoir could be a bit hard to swallow I agree.
        But I think it’s a bit disappointing that she choses a best-seller rather than a less well-known book and she could also promote a bit of diversity, not always speaking english authors, specially outside the UK and US.
        This book hardly needs promotion compared to other books, equally as good or maybe even better which struggle in a difficult market.

      • bluhare says:

        The Handmaid’s Tale has been around for years. I read it at least 20 years ago I think. It is only popular now due to the Hulu series and the current political climate.

      • Anya says:

        @bluhare Exactly, it doesn’t need more PR right now.
        I see people talking about it everywhere, facebook, twitter, magazines.
        I understand it’s part of her heforshe book club, but it looks like promoting the Da Vinci Code when the Da Vinci Code was already everywhere.

      • Suze says:

        If she were leaving copies of unknown authors books around, they would be less likely to be read. If she were leaving dense and difficult texts, they would be less likely to be read. I am a reader and even I toss the unknown and the challenging to the bottom of the pile.

        The goal is to get people reading! I think her effort is great as is.

      • Anya says:

        She has the power to promote more difficult book.
        And anywway I don’t speak about more difficult book only, just less famous ones.
        The Handmaid Tale doesn’t need more promotion, other books could use it.

      • bluhare says:

        Actually, Anya, I take your point, but the idea is to get people to read, and something people find interesting and topical is more likely to get that going. THEN they can tackle de Beauvoir. I thought it was a really good choice for this, and I didn’t really see it as a PR stunt. Emma just has more of an audience than most book fairies. Margaret Atwood is a brilliant writer, and the book is very appropriate today. It was so matter of fact, which highlighted how awful it was.

      • OhDear says:

        I think something by a French female author of black and/or Arab descent would have been a good choice. As someone mentioned below, Paris seems an odd choice for this book, though I get she’s promoting her book club.

        Also, not to nitpick, but what’s the point of hiding books? Why not just donate them to a library or as Hecate mentions, a hospital? I think a lot of people may be hesitant to pick up a book that’s randomly in a public spot for fear of germs and such.

      • cr says:

        “Also, not to nitpick”
        But you are. I understand being picky and snarky, that’s me, but as already mentioned in comments below, there’s a point to which which being hypercritical of an attempt at a good deed because you don’t get why they didn’t do this, etc., it gets to be a killjoy.

      • OhDear says:

        @cr – Then answer my question as to what the point of hiding books is and how it’s such a wonderful deed? I’m not shading, I honestly don’t get it.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        Why hide them? It’s fun. People like treasure hunts. And books ARE treasures.
        Why not?

      • cr says:

        @ohdear, you could read their site, you could read other’s comments. I think it’s one of those cases if It was to be really explained to you then you’re not going to get it because it’s not ‘you’. And if that’s the case, it’s the case.

    • Harlequin says:

      The Handmaid’s Tale is the current book for Our Shared Shelf, her HeForShe book club which is most likely why she chose to share this book around. In fact, a lot of the books that she shares like this are books that the book club has read or is currently reading.

      It would have been lovely if she had chosen a French author to share, but I see why she chose to share this instead. I can’t fault her for it.

      • Esmom says:

        I can’t fault her, either. I am actually in the middle of reading it right now, it’s the book for both my books groups. It’s chilling. It has a new foreword that Margaret Atwood wrote in 2017. It leaves me with a little bit of hope.

    • SKF says:

      Must we pick incessantly at every good deed people do? It really is a downer. I honestly feel like it discourages people from trying to do the right things sometimes because it is never good enough and people seem to go in harder at those are trying than those who never try.

      • LadyT says:

        Agreed. It’s a positive thing to do. Leave it at that.

      • Merritt says:

        Some people can’t just appreciate a good deed. They have to come up with something to diminish the efforts of another person.

      • frisbee says:

        ITA, it’s exhausting, especially applied to something innocuous like getting people to read a sodding book!

      • Magnoliarose says:

        I know. It is harmless and fun. I would love to find a book somewhere that I haven’t read. The TV show is popular so it is on the radar and a person is more likely to be interested. The goal is to get people to read. How can that ever be wrong?

      • Liberty says:

        SKF — totally agree! Thank you for saying it.

      • lucy2 says:

        I agree as well. Sometimes things are just good or fun and don’t need to be picked apart and questioned.

    • Sixer says:

      I imagine she chose it because the adaptation means it’s making a splash at the moment and many people may be thinking that they would like to read it. And it’s feminist.

      As the image shows, it was the translated edition.

  5. Jenny says:

    Handmaid’s tale is such a good book too, lucky Parisians! Read it in my youth 20 years ago and it has stayed with me. Was thrilled when I saw they’ve made it into a movie.

    Emma is such an inspiration, one of the few young stars who really stand for something positive in this dark and evermore frightening new world.

  6. Alexandria says:

    She should hide it in some red US states and Capitol Hill, but maybe I’m being too optimistic.

    • Prairiegirl says:

      That’s what I was thinking. Paris seems an odd match for that book.

    • cr says:

      Well, she’s not in those places, but perhaps there are other Book Fairies who are?

      • Alexandria says:

        Just a wry commentary from me on those who want to control female bodies, no shade on her and her choice of Paris. Anywhere is good. Free books are good.

    • Esmom says:

      Great idea but I’m sure there’s no way any of those GOP congressmen would deign to read it. Maybe hide some at Trump rallies? That’s probably to optimistic, too.

    • Robin says:

      Ha! France is FAR more at risk to end up under a government where something like The Handmaid’s Tale could actually happen, than the U.S. is.

  7. Pippie says:

    I’m one of the official UK Book Fairies and highly recommend it.

  8. Shambles says:

    She is stunning and she is wonderful. If she’d marry me I would buy the ring tomorrow.

  9. seesittellsit says:

    I loved the book and I also liked the original film with Natasha Richardson (rest in peace).

    And I like that dress Watson is wearing in the photo. She can weight herself down with too much material sometimes given how small she is, but this totally works.

  10. Ayra. says:

    I never refuse free books..but this always happens when I’m out of the country lol

  11. Stephanie says:

    Good taste Emma! Margaret Atwood is my favorite author, hands down.

  12. FishBeard says:

    Aww that’s lovely. She’s become such a philanthropic young woman. But I hope people are actually reading the books instead of assuming they’re someone’s lost property.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      As shown they come with stickers and notes of explanation.

      I love this. I leave paperbacks behind in hotel rooms and sometimes swap at coffee shops that have swap shelves. Check if your public library takes donations to sell, too.

      • Esmom says:

        The nursing home that my grandmother lived in at the end of her life took them, too. They were very much appreciated.

      • lucy2 says:

        Whenever I brought a book to read during traveling, it was a used copy that I then left for someone else – hotels, trains, airports, etc.

  13. third ginger says:

    She’s a sweetheart and reminds me a bit of my own little girl, the cute face and the coloring. I love the fact that so many girls went as Hermione for Halloween and costume parties, and now the grown up version is such a good role model!

  14. Tan says:

    That is a wonderful effort.

    And yes, one tends to read and share books they can relate to. Although I read books in multiple languages, my first impulse is to read and recommend a book in my mother tongue and then English ( language I learnt from when I was 2).

    And as a reader, I can try but I don’t find enjoyment and or finish the book if I cannot relate to it. Just because it is politically correct to recommend or name so and so authors, we should name drop those books, tend to seem a little showy and less earnest.

    In any case, her attempts are laudable.

  15. DiamondGirl says:

    Of course she can buy more of these new books to donate with the money she makes from oh-so-deliberately crediting the sources of her dress, shoes, and sunglasses.

  16. squeezeo'lime says:

    I’m ok with her disappearing for a while.

  17. dholmas says:

    I like hard cover books. When I am done with them I donate to the local library. I used to volunteer at the library. I like the idea of just putting books out for others to find.

  18. Miss S says:

    About the question, “why this book?”, it was to celebrate Women’s Day and apparently, she did this to other book titles from her reading club and in different cities.

    From the website of “The Book Fairies”: “Emma Watson helped us launch The Book Fairies on International Women’s Day in March, when she hid feminist books around NYC – titles chosen for her book club, Our Shared Shelf. She is continuing her Book Fairy fun with the current book club read – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. “

  19. Magnoliarose says:

    She is adorable. Her dress isn’t showstopping but it fits her and she looks good in it. Book Fairies is a great idea.

  20. Robin says:

    Huh. Some of us leave books for others in Little Free Libraries, and don’t feel the need to publicize our actions. But what do you expect from someone who played a Disney princess with Stockholm syndrome and tried to make it some sort of feminist icon role?

    • lucy2 says:

      She’s promoting the Book Fairies organization, and part of that is posting clues and such on social media and getting more people involved. Doesn’t do much good for them if she does it silently.