Do you have a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? You may have seen what look like oversized birdhouses or dollhouses on posts, filled with second-hand books. The idea is that you take a book if one catches your eye and leave a book if you have one to pass along. I love the idea that neighbors share books.
A bunch of Little Free Libraries sprang up in my neighborhood during the pandemic. There are six that I know of in one square mile.
A year ago, author Armand Rosamilia celebrated a Little Free Library Author Day. (Armand is a crime writer who hosts his own Little Free Library in Jacksonville, Floria.) I was inspired to participate, but wasn’t feeling well that day.
Still, I loved the idea of writers giving back to their neighbors and neighborhoods, so I’ve been inscribing copies of my books with behind-the-scenes trivia and leaving them in the neighborhood Little Free Libraries. It’s been surprisingly fun!
The first book I gave away was a first edition of my cemetery memoir, Wish You Were Here. I put it in a library that I passed nearly every day on my walks, one that had a charming book-shaped cut-out on its door. I inscribed it with a little historical tidbit about our neighborhood and sent it on its way with my best wishes.
Since then, I’ve gotten a lot of pleasure out of trying to match my books up with the books in the libraries. The library crammed full of strange San Francisco history got a copy of Lend the Eye a Terrible Aspect, the anthology I co-edited in the 90s about society in North America at the end of the century.
The library filled with thrillers got a copy of my space opera, Kill By Numbers. The library with science fiction got No More Heroes, another book in the space opera trilogy.
I’ve gotten my teenager involved in the adventure now. They really like picking through little libraries, so I’ve gotten them to come along to spot for me as I drive farther afield. We’re discovering neighborhoods we’re not family with, enjoying people’s gardens and marveling at how different the little libraries can be. We’re even getting in a little Mom/offspring time under the guise of doing something good for the neighbors.
And we found a beautiful new mural taking place in a neighborhood nearby.
The project is a win in every sense. I’m passing along books with bumped or creased covers that I couldn’t sell. They’re going into the hands of readers. I’m doing what I can to pass along the encouragement that real writers live and work in our neighborhoods, the inspiration that anyone could be a writer. I’m hoping some of my neighbors take up a pen or keyboard.
And if they get hooked and want to pick up another of my books? That’s the best!