The Little Free Library (LFL) is up, in the yard, along the road, by the wooded end of our lot. It is full of books of all kinds, fiction, non-fiction, young adult, children’s, and even an Inaugural Poem, mind games, and a field guide. It is open for fall and school and was posted on Labor Day by family and friends, and by posted I mean POSTED with two feet of the five foot post below ground, leveled, wedged by rocks, tamped with dirt by able bodied cadets who happened to be visiting on pass for the long weekend, their first weekend away from West Point.
Friends, neighbors, book-lovers and anyone who loves to read, thank you for visiting the Little Free Library and this site, TreeHouseLetter.com, to learn more about the project and how it got started. Please, please take a book, if you’re in the area, to read, to share, to enjoy. If you wish, return it when you’re done, or another book, or simply pass it along. Books, especially the good ones, are like old friends, and taking time to read them and learn, arm-chair travel, meet the author, characters, other people in other places, connects us across space and time. Leave me a note in the LFL, write me here, or share a note with others. I will leave a pen and paper in the box.
I have always imagined that paradise would be a kind of library. Jorge Luis Borges
Here’s how it got started. A few years ago, I visited friends in Minnesota and saw my first Little Free Library (LFL) on a walk together in Rochester. I loved the idea of sharing books with neighbors and friends and over the next couple years, the image of my own little library began to take hold. I spoke with my reading group about it and I mentioned it to my family; both encouraged and supported it. This May, I sent a link along to my husband of handcrafted Amish libraries I liked on LFL site and voila! Lucky me received the Cerulean Cedar model for our anniversary that same month. You can build your own and register it, or if you’re like us and more than a bit busy, and maybe a bit lacking in carpentry skill, you can purchase one of the gorgeous models directly from Little Free Library. It comes with its own charter number and is ready for operation. The Little Free Library nonprofit organization “inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.”
Here are a couple handwritten notes shared by readers who have used another LFL. To read the blog of 10 handwritten notes, click here.
“I currently live on the streets and sometimes wish I had a good book to read, thank you for the reading.”
“Thank you whoever you are for have-ing the book box. I’m 46 I learned to read 4 years ago and library however its spelled is to far. I just moved from Maine so I don’t know a lot of places so again thank you.”
A BIBLIOPHILE GETS PAST DENIAL
We have a lot of books, an embarrassing amount actually. I’ve been purging the shelves this year, now that my oldest has left for college and I’ve taken the Marie Kondo tidying oath, not literally, but more personally choosing the path of purge and simplify (The Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo). Truth is, after the death of four parents who were each avid readers, we’ve been toting around boxes upon boxes of books, theirs and ours. I love books. OK, I’m a bibliophile. There, I’ve said it and that means I’m out of denial. Even without our parents’ books, the sheer volumes of books are a lot of stuff for our children one day to have to inherit, and the gift of a library is a weighty one, but maybe it should be a thoughtful one. Our collection includes thousands of books and at one time we even considered adding a two story library to our home to hold them. Instead, we built shelves, floor to ceiling, in the office, the sun room, the family room and even on the landing in the foyer. We purchased bookshelves and we built them into the children’s rooms. Surprise, the children love to read. After a while, all the shelves filled up and stacks began to grow on our nightstand, on the tables, counters. We have a problem.
People love to collect things like Beany Babies, porcelain dolls, etched glass, vintage cars, homes, yachts. We collect books, military books, maps, textbooks, folk tales and fairy tales from our travels, children’s books, first editions, young adults, series, anything Edward Gorey, Jane Austen, and Chris Van Allsburg, cloth covers, signed copies, reading group books. But why? for what reason? I love many of these and will never part with certain books. Our book collections are like scrap books and photo albums, often with inscriptions, train tickets, boarding passes, museum fare, pressed flowers, book marks from travels and periods in our lives, even hand-made gifts, pictures, and notes, errata and marginalia entries. They remind us of a time in our lives, what we were reading, what we thought about, where we were going. They gave us joy, escape, understanding, frustration, sadness, so maybe it’s time for others to enjoy them. Maybe they served out their useful lives. And everything has a life.
So I’ve been donating books to the library, the shelter, and Good Will this year. This last crop of books filled the entire back of my truck, seats down. My youngest boxed up childhood books, and it was hard to let some of these go, The Benedict Society trilogy, the Dork Diaries, volumes 1 through 10, Judith Viorst Lulu series. The Little House books looked so sad in the box, I took them out because they’re worth keeping. My friend Kate said it well: “I love to pass on books. I’m never going to read them again.” And she is right. I realized that many, I would never ever read or read again.
I stocked favorite titles in the Little Free Library. My job as steward is to check on the collection, maintain the LFL, and make it a comfortable and inviting area. I welcome any and all feedback and will leave a pen and paper for you to share comments with me or others. You are also welcome to write me here.
TANGIBLE OLD FASHIONED BOOKS
Half of books sold today are digital books, and there is a market for that. For me and my family, we love to hold the book, touch it, feel its pages, flip through it with the spine firmly in your hand, thumbing the chapters, and taking in the font, the layout, even the binding and white space, and especially the pictures, if there are any. I reviewed the donations and pulled a couple boxes of favorite titles and those are what we chose for our Little Free Library.
So I hope you’ll visit and sit for awhile, take in the view, check out the shelf and maybe even find something you might enjoy, or wish to share with others.
The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page. St. Augustine