The Power of Books – One Man’s Story

Brad Wirz of

Brad Wirz and friends, volunteering in Honduras.

Author: Brad Wirz and is the force behind the Bibliophile’s Shop here on
The literary-themed gifts that he curates are fun and unique, and 10% of each purchase goes to benefit!  Check out the bookmarks, posters, games, clothing, kitchenware, and more for holiday gifts for the bookish types on your list.

Almost four years ago I found myself curled up in the fetal position in a dark hotel room in New York City. A supercharged, 20+ year career in corporate marketing had taken its toll, putting me on the road 200 days each year, persistently eroding the great enthusiasm I had in the early years of my career.

I called my wife with a firm proclamation: One year from now I’m going to be doing something completely different. Without even blinking, she agreed, and I released a sigh of relief.

Just a few weeks later I found myself in the remote jungles of Central America on a volunteer trip I had committed to months before. Grateful for the diversion from my job, on the first day of our trip I learned we would spend much of the week helping to build a new library for the area villages. My ears perked up. As a lifelong book lover, this was something I could really get behind.

The library wasn’t anything special, especially by American standards. Perhaps the size of a Starbucks, with maybe 1,000 books in the entire collection, the new library was eagerly anticipated by the surrounding communities, one of the poorest regions in the Western Hemisphere.

Book Text Poster, Emma by Jane Austen, Unframed

Book Text Poster, Emma by Jane Austen – a great gift from the Bibliophile’s Shop for under $50!

It turns out that tiny library was the very first library for more than 100 miles in any direction. It served hundreds of villages of people who simply did not have books as part of their lives. Can you imagine how different their existence is from most Westerners without the advantages of books?

Over the course of that trip, and the subsequent months after returning to work, I formulated a plan. Rather than turning my back on the business world entirely, I would put my marketing experience to work in building a company that would donate its profits to fund many more such libraries in the developing world.

Fast forward to today: GoneReading, my social enterprise founded in 2010, markets an original collection of merchandise for book lovers around the globe. Avid readers can choose from hundreds of reading-themed gifts, knowing that 100% of the after-tax profits go to fund amazing charities such as BiblioWorks, READ Global and Ethiopia Reads.

We recently funded our first children’s library in Ethiopia, a milestone for just our second full year in business. GoneReading is still tiny, but we’re growing in the triple digits, and have big plans for funding a wide variety of reading-related programs around the globe.

I recently walked past that same hotel in New York City where this journey began in 2010, and I actually laughed out loud to myself. What a difference from that dark day to the present. No longer in the fetal position, I routinely jump out of bed with new-found joy and enthusiasm for spreading the magic of reading. Only the power of books could bestow such fortune!

Visit the Bibliophile’s Shop today, and check out the bookish gifts that Gone Reading has to offer!

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