Little Free Libraries: Why They Are a Great Idea

The look on her face made it all worthwhile.

I have maintained a little free library out by the street in front of my house for a little over three years now. I knew I’d enjoy it because reading is kind of my thing. But I didn’t anticipate that I’d love the experience more and more each day. It’s truly one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done.

Usually, if I see someone at the library, I tend to keep my distance. Otherwise, I fear I might scare them off with my enthusiasm. It’s not a natural feeling for most people to take something out of a box in a total stranger’s yard. Even though I have various signs on the library explaining that these books are there for them, many people look nervous as they open the door, as if they’re expecting a siren to go off. So I usually give them their space. At most, I’ll smile and wave if they see me.

But on this day I was puttering in the garden. I saw a young lady in her early 20’s approach the library, and there was really nowhere to hide unless I were to dive headlong into the shrubbery. Even I know that would be weird.

So I said hello, and asked her if there were any types of books she particularly enjoyed. I mentioned that my garage is stuffed with them, so I’m sure I could find her something. And her eyes lit up. “Wow! Really?”

I smiled and said sure. I’d be happy to run up and bring some more down. Did she have a favorite author? Was she interested in anything specific?

She hesitated. I could tell she was thinking. Then she looked up at me and said, “I have dyslexia. So, like… teen… ch-chapter books?”

Yay! I have tons of those! So I told her I’d be right back, and I practically skipped up the sidewalk. I came back with 20 for her to choose from, and encouraged her to take as many or as few as she wanted. She smiled and took three.

That. That right there! That’s exactly why I have a little free library. The look on her face. That makes it all worth it.

Yes, books are starting to devour my garage. Yes, sometimes people will steal every book from this community resource to resell them online, taking them out of the hands of those who need them most. Yes, vandalism sometimes happens. But when all is said and done, the positives outweigh the negatives to an astounding degree.

I told my new patron that I’d do my best to always have a few books in there that she might like. She grinned and thanked me. I watched her walk down the sidewalk, and then I got back to my puttering. I could not wipe the smile off my face.

And contrary to a persistent myth, public libraries are big supporters of little free libraries. One of their primary goals is to get people to read. They don’t care how it happens. They want books to be available to everyone. I’ve never met a librarian who didn’t love little free libraries. We’re not competitors. We’re on the same team.

I will definitely put chapter books in my library for that lovely young lady, and for anyone else who wants to read them. It’ll be a challenge, though, finding chapter books that are at her level of maturity, but also at that reading level. But challenge accepted. I’ll find a way.

I also keep “lady books” in there for the woman who is too embarrassed to say “romance”. And I put thrillers in for the new citizen who reads them to practice his English. And I try to stock up on fairy tales for the man who likes to read to his grandchildren. And I could never forget the little boy who loves dinosaurs.

I’m thrilled with the idea of giving people easy access to the magical world of books. After all, books can take you anywhere in the universe. Anticipating the adventure that I’m about to embark upon when I start a new (to me) book gives me butterflies. Books helped me survive my childhood. In these stressful and confusing times, it’s an honor to share that feeling of comfort mixed with excitement with others.

A side benefit is the knowledge that children who read are much more likely to become successful adults. I think of my little free library as an investment in the future of both my community and the world at large. And that, right there, gives me quite a lot to smile about.

Incidentally, I have plenty of adult and young adult books, but I struggle to keep up with the children’s books. If you’d like to let a child in my neighborhood find his or her way into the world of books, please check out my Clark Lake Park Little Free Library Wish List on Amazon.com. No pressure, but if you are so inclined, I sincerely thank you.

Thanks, Censorship!

Free speech is the canary in society’s coal mine.

My mother always made a point of getting me any books that had been banned by any school board. Books, you see, are messengers, and if anyone felt that a message should be blocked, then it must be an awfully important message, indeed. To this day my gut reaction to censorship is to wonder what these ignorant people are trying to hide, and then I absolutely have to get that information.

If I win the lottery (highly unlikely since I don’t play, but you never know what you might find stuck to the bottom of your shoe, and the odds of winning are about the same either way…) I’d start an organization with the sole mission of getting banned books into the hands of those who will be impacted by the ban. If your school is keeping you from reading Anne Frank’s Diary, and you want to read it anyway, you’d contact this foundation and they’d send you a copy, free of charge. In addition, they’d send a dollar to an organization that supports free speech.

Now, wouldn’t that put a burr under the censor’s saddle? The very thought makes me happy. This foundation would emphasize what I’ve known all along: Censorship creates interest. I’ve read many amazing books thanks to ignorant attempts to suppress thoughts and opinions.

Most recently, I read Maus, by Art Spiegelman. This is a graphic novel, so if it hadn’t been for the censors, I probably would never have heard of it, but if I did, I’d most likely have passed it by. It’s just not my genre. But this is not a book that one should pass by under any circumstances. Maus tells the story of the author’s father, who survived the brutal policies and concentration camps of Nazi Germany.

I have read a lot about this dark stain on our history, because some part of me wants desperately to understand how such atrocities can happen, and how they can be prevented. I firmly believe that the only way to prevent evil from engulfing all of us is to look deep into the soul of evil and figure out exactly how it works. But of all the books that I have read, I have to say that Maus gave me a much better sense of what it must have been like to be there, at ground zero, while the world was falling apart.

Since his father survived and went on to have a writer for a son, it allows you to see how these horrific events fundamentally changed the man, and how that, in turn, fundamentally changes the relationship he has with his son. This is a father who would have driven me up the wall. But I can see why the man is the way he is, and for that I feel sorry for both him and for their relationship. The past ripples forward into the future in so many unexpected ways.

Another thing that I hadn’t truly comprehended until I read this book is how exhausting it would be to have your whole life, your loved ones, and everything you own taken from you (that part I get) and then fleeing and trying to survive elsewhere, and maybe even trying to start over, again and again and again, only to have it all snatched away again and again and again.

I’ve only read about this in books. Books have endings. But the Holocaust, unfortunately, does not. It’s not like you were forced to eat a grub, but now that you’ve done it, you can say, “Whew! That’s over with! I’ll never have to eat a grub again!”

No. The grubs just keep on coming. That never truly occurred to me. Life under the Nazis was hell. Hiding and starving was hell. Then the concentration camps were hell. But post-war Europe was also hell. And being a refugee is hell. And being rejected by country after country is hell. And the hate that’s still out there is hell, too. Hate groups are, unfortunately, alive and well.

I know I’m probably making you not want to read this book, but truly, you should. In a strange way, it also leaves you feeling really impressed by Man’s will to survive. It gives you hope that enough of us will say never again that someday, somehow, it will never happen again.

This post’s title may have led you to believe that I take censorship lightly. But free speech is very much the canary in society’s coal mine. When that dies, you better get the hell out of the mine shaft, because things are about to get ugly. But wouldn’t it be better for all concerned if we just took the time to keep that canary healthy and singing?

We’ve become inured to atrocities, because for the most part, they haven’t happened to us. They’re happening somewhere over there, beyond the horizon, or long ago, to ancestors whose lives we can’t really imagine. But we should resist the urge to consider atrocities to be status quo. What’s going on in Ukraine, for example, could so easily happen to us. We need to stay awake.

I am my mother’s daughter, so I will always speak out against any threat to free speech. Words are powerful. Knowledge is powerful. Opinions are powerful. But the people who actively block these things? They are weak. They are nothing but weak-minded, ignorant people whose sole agenda is to render us passive and willing to think exactly the way they do, because that is the only way the weak will ever control us. And that is yet another form of hell.

I have always said what I wanted to say. Sometimes it has gotten me into trouble. But that hasn’t slowed me down. But as humans become increasingly desperate and unstable, they are increasingly prone to striking out against those who aren’t on their “team”. And that has some dangerous consequences. Just ask Salman Rushdie, because Jamal Khashoggi is no longer around to ask.

Obviously, I am not either one of those brave men. But eventually, if this keeps up, the extremists will run out of the Khashoggis and the Rushdies of this world, and they’ll have to go after the smaller targets, like you and me, in order to maintain their control fix. And then we’ll all wish that we had done something sooner.

You don’t think they’re coming for you? Think again. Ron DeSantis, the current Governor of Florida, who wants to run for president, just took the most recent shot across the free speech bow with his Stop Woke Act. A gross oversimplification of this act is that it does not allow schools or businesses to teach people about historical events and biases because it might make them feel guilty. (I don’t know about you, but I think I can handle it.)

Am I the only one who has noticed that the opposite of “Stop Woke” is either “Go Ignorance” or “Go to Sleep”?  Neither option seems very palatable to me. Fortunately, as of this writing, this insidious act is tangled up in court, but just the fact that the leader of Florida is so wrong-headed, and wants to run for President, is very good reason to be terrified.

Never stop learning. Stand up. Speak out. Resist. Stay awake.

Vote.

The ultimate form of free speech and recycling: Buy my book, read it, and then donate it to your local public library or your neighborhood little free library! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Help Broaden a Child’s Horizons: A Diverse Book List

Scroll down for the highlighted book list!

I know this to be true: Children with access to a broad range of perspectives, those who understand that one must look at history through a variety of lenses and consider the motivations of the historians who came before them, will grow up to be educated, open-minded individuals who have a much better chance of having a positive impact on the world.

It is imperative that we teach our children critical thinking skills as well as the ability to be humble. If they don’t discover that “our way” is not the only way, they will be incapable of thinking outside the box to create the solutions that their generation will surely need for their survival. If they don’t learn about the many choices in this world, they will not be capable of making informed decisions in their own lives.

There is a trend in our schools to cut off access to any knowledge that might offend closed-minded adults, and we allow this to happen at our peril. I want our future leaders to know some things without question:

  • Other cultures have other perspectives.
  • Evolution is real.
  • People with special needs deserve kindness, too.
  • Christianity is not the only religion in the world.
  • Some people choose not to believe in any religion at all.
  • Women have made a positive impact on this planet, as have people of color.
  • Science is real, and it evolves over time as we continue to explore new paths of inquiry.
  • Getting to know people who do not look like you is a very good thing.
  • We live amongst people who have different sexual orientations and/or gender identifications than we do, and that fact should not be considered a threat.
  • Diversity is beautiful and provides the broader perspective that we need to effectively solve problems.

It becomes increasingly evident that if we want children to have a well-rounded education, we will have to take matters into our own hands. For many years I struggled to find a way to assist in this effort. Then I realized that I may not be able to change the world, but I can certainly make a difference in my little corner of it.

Since I genuinely believe that that access to books that might not be found in our increasingly-censored schools is imperative if we want our children to have a global perspective, I decided to start a little free library in front of my home. This library contains books for adults as well, and it has become increasingly popular over time.

The fascinating thing about this library is that the adult books often come back so that other people might enjoy them, but the children’s books almost never do. That’s perfectly fine. Kids love to read books over and over again.

Unfortunately, that means that it’s very difficult to keep enough children’s books in stock to meet the demand. People are kind enough to donate books occasionally, but they’re rarely as diverse as I would like them to be. For example, I have dozens of books about Christmas, but no books at all about Kwanzaa, Eid, Diwali, Hanukah, or Ramadan. I can’t afford to purchase all these books myself.

The other night I was thinking about this problem, and finally accepting the fact that putting out pleas on the Facebook pages for my community was yielding nothing, and I began to daydream about the kind of books I’ll like to have for the library. A wish list of sorts.

Then I remembered that Amazon allows you to make wish lists. So I hopped over to their website and started making one. It’s a work in progress, and will definitely expand over time.

So, without further ado, check out my list entitled Children’s Books for Clark Lake Park Little Free Library. 

Because this cause is so near and dear to my heart, I encourage you to use this list as a resource to obtain books for the children in your lives. If this list causes people to put even one diverse book in the hands of even one child, the world would be a much better place.

But make no mistake: I would also be thrilled if your generosity extended to my little free library. So, if you’re willing to purchase one of these books for the kids in my corner of the world, I would be almost as thrilled as the child who ultimately receives that book. The wish list contains my shipping information.

Thanks for your consideration. It takes a village!

Read any good books lately? Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Confessions of a Book Snob

The messages some books send do not appeal to me.

When I was going through puberty, I used to devour romance novels for the titillation factor. But over time I came to realize that a lot of these books were pretty formulaic. Also, I begin to notice that a lot of the messages that they send did not appeal to me.

I did not want it put into my head that the only way to be happy is if you’re coupled up. And since I wasn’t part of a couple, these books often had me crying hormonal teenaged tears and feeling lonely and inadequate. Who needs that?

I also don’t believe that someone who is treating you abominably will automatically be reformed and start loving you properly. Bad boys can rarely be tamed, and no one should get into a relationship under the assumption that the other person will change. If you don’t like what you see now, you’re definitely not going to like what you see 20 years from now. I also don’t believe that some man is going to come along and rescue me and solve all my problems. Women don’t need those messages. They need to learn how to be agents of their own life success, whether they are in a couple or choose to go it alone. And while finding love is wonderful, it doesn’t have to be one’s primary goal in life. It’s OK to have other goals.

And by the way, no one has the right to rip your bodice. No one gets to take possession of you. Healthy relationships should be based on teamwork and equality, not violence and/or domination.

So yeah, I stopped reading romance novels about 40 years ago. Maybe they have gotten better as feminism has taken a tenuous hold, but I doubt it. Why would publishers mess with what seems to be a successful formula? Many of us, it seems, embrace indoctrination.

The only book I’ve read during that time that comes close to that genre is the soft-porn, misguided, erotic novel, Fifty Shades of Grey. I read it to see what all the fuss was about. I quickly realized that this was the most poorly written book on the face of the planet. I’m sorry, but titillation is not worth putting up with crappy writing. There are just too many other stories out there that can ring your bell without insulting your intelligence.

Given my disdain for romance novels, when I started my little free library, I made a firm decision that no romance novels would ever be in it. Full stop. This is not censorship. I’m not telling anyone not to read these books, and heaven knows there are plenty of sources for them to obtain such things. But I am the curator of my library, and I decide what stays and what goes.

And then one day I met one of my patrons. I had seen her stop by frequently, but she rarely took a book. She said to me, wistfully, “I sure wish you had more lady books.”

I apologized to her even as my heart sank, and then I went inside to have a long think. Ultimately, I decided that my main goal was to encourage reading and literacy. There’s no denying that the romance genre is quite popular. I suppose it wouldn’t kill me if the odd romance novel made it into my collection every once in a while.

Make no mistake, I still curate my library. There are some books you will never see in there. If a book promotes hate, it goes straight into the garbage. Likewise, books that give false information, and contradict science, such as those written for the anti-vax crowd, will find no home in my library. There’s plenty of easily obtainable false information on the internet. There is no need for me to perpetuate it. I also tend to avoid books that promote one religion over another.

But now I hold on to about every 10th “lady book” that crosses my path. (The rest go to Goodwill. I’d give them directly to that patron, except she is not on any type of social media, and I don’t feel comfortable exchanging phone numbers with her.) Every now and again I hold my nose and put one of these books in my library, because some people actually enjoy them. I may not agree with the social construct that these books promote, but I’ve found that many readers of these books will read nothing else.

If it’s a choice between romance or not reading at all, then I guess I’ll choose romance. Reluctantly. And I have to admit that they do fly off the shelves.

Before any of you fire off an indignant response to this post that defends romance novels, attempts to change my mind about them, or expresses how insulted you feel by my judgment, please know that I genuinely believe you can read anything you want. The fact that these books are not my cup of tea, and probably never will be again, is not an indictment of your taste. To each his or her own. I know perfectly well that I’m a snob on this particular subject. Hence the title of this post. Namaste.

Seriously? C’mon…

Now is the perfect time to stay at home and read a good book. Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

The Book in the Bushes

It made me really sad.

The other day I was walking down the sidewalk by my house (something I rarely do), and I just happened to look to the side and saw one of the books from my little free library was lying in the bushes. It was a paperback version of “Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul: Stories of Canine Companionship, Comedy and Courage.”

It was soaked through. Swollen. Warped. Completely beyond rescue.

I realize that this book is not Shakespeare, nor is it ever destined to be on the Times bestseller list, but it was a book. It was a book that someone might have enjoyed. It may have gotten a non-reading dog-lover to actually read. It could have planted a reading seed. But instead, some fool took this book and threw it in the bushes like so much garbage. It made me really sad.

On the Little Free Library Stewards group on Facebook, I hear about vandalism and destruction on a daily basis. Little free libraries that are cleaned out of all their books by one person who will probably sell them on Amazon. Books that are thrown in the snow. Library boxes stolen, or maybe even destroyed. Some libraries have been burned on Halloween or blown up on the 4th of July. So I know I’ve gotten off easy so far.

The thing is (and yes, there’s always a thing), all of these little free libraries have been put there for positive reasons. Their stewards are trying to promote literacy and get books in the hands of people who may not be able to obtain them otherwise. They are a positive force in this world. And I’d like to think that there are more people who benefit from them than there are people who want to vandalize them. But it can be awfully discouraging to know that there are so many destructive forces out there.

I realize that most of these vandals are probably males from the ages of 13 to 25 and that eventually they’ll grow up and mature and stop being so idiotic. But it’s kind of unsettling to walk down the street and look at the adult males and think that a certain percentage of them were once these little hooligans who got away with it and are now just living their lives, and not really making any effort to make the world a better place.

Your boss at work may have once keyed cars for fun. Someone you dated briefly may have destroyed all the beautiful murals in his town on one fateful drunken night. Your family doctor may have enjoyed leaving flaming bags of sh** on peoples doorsteps in his adolescence.

We’ll never know. And for society to function, I suppose it needs to remain unspoken. If we’ve learned nothing else in the past five or six years, we have certainly learned that a great many of us have a cruel, hostile, selfish and destructive streak running through our core. And one of those sub-humans crossed paths with my little free library the other day. Stuff happens.

I did retrieve the book, dry out the pages that hadn’t already been reduced to pulp as best I could, and put those pages in the recycle bin. And I’ll keep adding books to the library for those who actually want to read them. Because the only thing those of us who are responsible can do to counter these fools is to keep on trying to be a force for good.

Please support the little free libraries in your neighborhood, or consider starting one yourself. Namaste.

Read any good books lately? Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

My Second Little Free Librariversary

This little library looms so large in my life now.

Two years ago today, Dear Husband helped me install a little free library in front of our house. He built it, and I painted it. It was something I had been wanting to do for many years.

I remember how excited I was when I filled it with books for the first time. Reading and travel are my two favorite pastimes. I knew I’d enjoy encouraging literacy in my neighborhood, and allowing people to travel in their minds.

What I didn’t realize is how much more it would become for me. I wasn’t expecting how connected I would feel to my community. I had no idea I’d make so many friends. I had no freakin’ clue how much of my garage would be taken over by the book backlog. (Sorry DH.)

And the library seems to have taken on a life of its own. It has a Facebook group. I now also give away rubber duckies, plastic toys, painted rocks, bookmarks, and the occasional school supply. On sunny days, I wheel out a book wagon full of additional books, and lock it to the library’s post.

I love all the amazing comments people put in my log book. I did have to chain it to the library, though, as the first book disappeared. We also installed a hook for people to use for their dogs’ leashes. I had a water bowl out there for the pups, but that vanished almost immediately. I’ll have to look for a bowl with a handle that I can attach to the post. Pity, that.

My library has a living roof, and the succulents and the pansies have taken over. And we put twinkling lights on the post for Christmas, and decided that we liked them so much that they’re still there. In addition, we have a little free library flag, and people liked the license plates that we put on the telephone pole behind it so much that they’ve taken to donating plates to us, too.

I enjoy doing chalk art on the sidewalk in front on sunny days, and we’re talking about painting concrete blocks to look like famous book titles, and embedding them beside the walkway. Someday we may even get around to installing a bench and a solar light. And an even bigger box. (Please?)

We have also taken to carrying a box of books in the trunk of our car. When we happen upon another little library, We’ll stop, take pictures, and leave some books. Occasionally we even seek them out. It’s a great way to see neighborhoods you wouldn’t normally visit, and get ideas for your own library. In addition, I recently started to stock the little library at our local YMCA.

This little free library looms so large in my life now. I can’t imagine a day going by without me peeking inside to see what has been borrowed. The joy it gives me is bigger than my neighborhood. I’m grateful for everyone who visits it, and I hope they spread the word.

I’d love to inspire you to start a little free library of your own, dear reader. At the very least, support the one nearest you. Keep on reading, everyone.

Read any good books lately? Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Books vs. eBooks

The bottom line: Read.

Recently, I posted a message in my community Facebook group that I have a little free library. I invited everyone to stop by and check it out. I thought it was a fairly innocuous post. Silly me. It seems that trolls abound.

A lady actually responded, “That’s not good for the environment. Get a kindle. We got one and we love it.”

It took everything in me not to fire back, “Okay, Karen. Not everyone can afford a kindle.”

But I was relatively good. I did politely point out that recirculating locally sourced used books is the ultimate form of recycling. It reduces the number of new books purchased, which hopefully causes publishers to reduce the number of hard copies they print. It also reduces the number of books heading for the landfill, as most books never get properly recycled, and if they’re printed on glossy paper, they can’t be.

I also mentioned that there are multiple studies indicating that reading a physical book helps you retain the information much better. And let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like cuddling up with a physical book. In particular, I think children get a lot of benefit from touching and feeling and gazing at the artwork on the page.

And it really is true that not everyone can afford electronics. Many people don’t have reliable access to the internet to download books even if they do have a kindle. These libraries get books into the hands of people who can’t afford them or otherwise don’t have access to them. They encourage people to read who may not have even considered it before. I am proud of the service my little free library provides to the community.

I’m not Kindle bashing, here. Every debate has its pros and cons. I know someone who has severe arthritis, and she finds the reduced weight of a kindle to be much less painful. Plus, you can increase the font size. And you can read a Kindle in the dark without needing a flashlight. And they certainly take up much less space. So there’s that.

But then, not all books are available on Kindle. And sometimes they mysteriously disappear. Or you run out of power while enjoying your eBook on the beach. And staring a screen for long periods has been found to disrupt your sleep cycle and cause depression and cognitive issues in children.

The environmental impacts of both formats is debatable, and comes with a lot of ifs. Lithium mining for batteries oftentimes employs slave labor, and it’s an environmental nightmare. And destroying Kindles causes toxins to enter the atmosphere and the ground water.

As far as carbon emissions, according to this article, it really depends on the number of books you actually read electronically as opposed to buying brand new hard copies. Books have a carbon footprint, too. They’re made from trees, and the production process for paper and the gas used in delivery and the number of books that get burned before ever being read… all that takes its toll.

But if, like me, you’re more inclined to borrow books from the library, whether it be public or little and free, that reduces a book’s impact exponentially. And if you don’t replace your Kindle every time a new version comes out, that helps, too. It’s all very complicated.

I guess for me, the bottom line is that everyone should read, as much as possible, in whatever format feels best. Just read. A literate and educated population is much more apt to save this planet, don’t you think?

I’m proud to say that my book is available in paperback, kindle, and deluxe color edition! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Every Little Free Library Has a Story

Please read!

We knew that on our way to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival we would be driving through the wonderful town of Arlington, Washington, so dear husband suggested that we bring along a box of books to put into the little free libraries there. What a great idea!

Arlington has a population of about 20,000 people, and it has a charming, historic downtown. It would be a great place to retire, because housing costs are almost reasonable, compared to the Seattle area. Sadly, it will be getting an Amazon Fulfillment Center soon, so it will gain 1,000 jobs but probably lose a lot of charm and affordability. But as usual, I digress.

According to the official little free library website, Arlington currently has 6 registered little free libraries. One is only identified by latitude and longitude, so we skipped that one because it would be too much of a hassle to locate. We did visit the other five, though, and they were charming. Check out the pictures below.

Another thing I love about little free libraries is that they all seem to come with a unique story. Sometimes those stories are included in the map section of the little free library website. I always enjoy these stories.

For example, one of these libraries is hosted by a retired librarian who was hoping to get rid of some of her books, but now she has more books than she started with, because people are so great about donating them! She now has two little free libraries side by side, one for adult books, another for children’s books.

Two others, the TARDIS and the baby blue one with the peeling paint, were designed by a girl scout troop. The peeling paint one got vandalized and had to be repaired and relocated. I hope these two have someone taking regular care of them.

The large one was placed in front of a real estate office by one of the brokers. It had plenty of space for good books! The broker also has a library in front of his house. Good for him!

And the green one is strategically placed at a school bus stop. It’s a rural neighborhood, so the steward says it is visited by “children, dogs, horses and people out walking.” I wonder if the horses or dogs have left any books.

I love that for every little free library there’s a story. But the final sentence of each of those stories is, by default, a simple one. Please read.

Read any good books lately? Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Because Sunshine!

Get out in it!

When I lived in Florida, I used to take sunshine for granted. In fact, I got rather adept at avoiding it at all costs. I have no idea how anyone survives down there without air conditioning. I spent my whole Florida life trying to quickly move from one air conditioned space to the next.

But here in the Pacific Northwest, you learn to appreciate every single ray of sunshine that you get. The winters here are wet, grey, and raw, for months on end. So when spring comes along and throws several days of sunshine at you in a row, you’d be a fool not to get out in it and celebrate.

And so it was that dear husband and I decided to take a road trip to Tacoma and enjoy the waterfront. (More details about the waterfront and the town itself in another post.)

While we were at it, we brought a box full of books and visited a few of the hundreds of little libraries that are in that area. It’s always fun to see the different setups that various people have, and see the neighborhoods that they serve. It also makes me smile to think that I’m adding books that are new to that particular library. Variety, after all, is the spice of life.

We visited four little free libraries in or around old town in Tacoma, and their pictures are below. Not only did I leave many books behind, but I took a few for my library. I wish I had time to read all of them myself!

I also nominated three of them to become pokestops. I hope the Pokemon Go folks accept my nominations, so that more children will be drawn to these libraries and perhaps develop a love of reading. I couldn’t nominate the fourth one because it was mounted directly on the wall of their home, and I know for a fact that Pokemon rejects all things that are quite obviously on private property. (As well they should.)

The tall skinny one that you see was as wonderful as the others, but the bottom door had become swollen and wouldn’t completely close, and therefore there was some water damage to the books on the lower level. That kind of made me sad. I hope someone repairs it at some point.

And I loved the one that included a bench. I can just imagine sitting there in that pretty neighborhood, enjoying the sunshine and reading a book. That sounds as close to heaven as one could possibly come in this life.

Books and sunshine both feed the soul.

Read any good books lately? Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Our Most Excellent Book Bombing Adventure

No violence involved. Just a whole lot of satisfaction.

First of all, before you call the FBI, “book bombing” does NOT involve explosives or violence of any kind. If you are disappointed by that fact, then this is definitely not the blog for you. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Book bombing involves gathering up a bunch of boxes of books (preferably in excellent condition), picking an area that you’d like to explore, and then looking up that area on the maps page of littlefreelibrary.org to see where these delightful little libraries are located. Then you plot your route and visit them one by one, leaving books as you go. It’s great fun!

And while I do wish I could come up with a better name for this activity, currently “book bombing” is the phrase of choice. Some people have suggested “book blessing”, but I personally find this a bit too cheesy. I’m open to suggestions.

I can’t take credit for this idea. I first heard about this from Dan and Trina Wiswell, fellow library stewards, who have raised book bombing to an art form. They travel far and wide, spreading literacy as they go. They have become experts at obtaining books at little or no cost, and sharing the wealth with their fellow stewards. They’ve even visited my library. It was a pleasure meeting them and getting some desperately needed children’s books.

Since then, I’ve wound up with a surplus of books of my own, thanks to the local PTA of the nearest elementary school. Aside from my usual backlog, there are currently 8 large boxes of books in my garage. And I would much rather get those books in the hands of readers, instead of having them gather dust and take up space.

On the day in question, the math was rather simple, really:

Surplus books + the first really sunny day off in months = ROAD TRIP!!!!

We decided that we’d book bomb both Snoqualmie and Issaquah, Washington. That’s a beautiful area, but not so far away that we couldn’t do it in an afternoon. That, and it’s rural enough to where a new influx of books would most likely be greatly appreciated. So we enjoyed the scenery, and got onto a few little back country roads that we had never had the chance to enjoy before.

First on the agenda, though, was a lovely little side trip to Snoqualmie Falls. Not only are these falls beautiful, but they’re also extremely close to the parking lot, so it’s hard to resist stopping by whenever we’re in the neighborhood. And they look different from one season to the next, so it’s quite the treat.

After having satisfied our falls craving, we went to five little free libraries in Snoqualmie, and two more in Issaquah, before it became too dark to see what we were doing. And we moved a lot slower than the average book bomber would, because I was not only taking pictures for this blog post, but also nominating the ones in Snoqualmie to be Pokestops in the Pokemon Go application. (It’s every savvy steward’s dream to have their library become a Pokestop, because it draws children to the location. Sadly, I can only nominate so many at a time, so I’ll have to come back later to nominate the ones in Issaquah.)

We really enjoyed seeing the different neighborhoods. And it was fun to see different little free library designs and ideas. They had a lot of really good ones.

First of all, the little free libraries in Snoqualmie had gotten together to do a scavenger hunt in honor of National Day of Unplugging! They even provided little sleeping bags for one’s cell phone to get people into the spirit of things. What fun!

We encountered one that was designed like a little red caboose, and that complimented the actual, life-sized caboose in the people’s side yard. That was amazing. And when you opened this library, it was full of free slap bracelets. I had never thought of that. I’m going to have to look into those, because they can also double as bookmarks. (Many of the libraries included great bookmarks, either home made or purchased, too.)

I was delighted to see one library in front of the local elementary school. It was made by the local girl scout troop out of a repurposed newspaper dispenser. And all along the sides it was covered in children’s book titles. Two thumbs up for that one! The library was empty of books, so we filled it to overflowing!

Another one was made from an antique vegetable cupboard. Only small books could fit in that one, but it was very cute. And it had a yellow food pantry beside it, and a bench where people could sit and read. Another had a milk crate below so the little kids would have an easier time browsing.

My favorite of the day, though, was in the boonies of Issaquah. It had not only two little free libraries, but also a bridge over a ditch that led to a shed where you could get out of the weather, and that shed was full of puzzles! There was also a bench outside for nice weather. It was a wonderful literary world all its own. I longed to spend more time there, but it was getting dark. I’ll definitely be back.

All in all, it was a very satisfying afternoon. The time flew by, we saw some wonderful places and things, and we shared books with the wider world. It felt really good to have fun and do some good at the same time.

I highly recommend book bombing, no matter what you might decide to call it. Below are photos of the amazing places we visited.

The ultimate form of recycling: Buy my book, read it, and then donate it to your local public library or your neighborhood little free library! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5