A month ago I read an article in Hour magazine about the Little Free Library. I had to have one. Through the generosity of friends who have donated materials, expertise, and time, I am close to achieving my goal. I have only to finish coating it with a protective coat of polyurethane and get my signage done and we will be in business. I am incredibly excited about this project.
In my imagination, I see people walking past the LFL while they are out with their kids or dogs, on their way to beach, or bus stop, and stopping to take a look. What new adventures will they find behind the purple door and plexiglass?
They take a new book out, or they leave one behind. They pass one on to someone else. The LFL becomes a small center of community and conversation. People talk to each other about the book they are picking up or leaving, make new friends out of long time neighbors. That is my local vision for the LFL.
On a more regional and global scale, I intend to combine the LFL with what I have started calling "Random Acts of Literacy." I register all the books I put in the LFL on a website called Bookcrossing. Each one is given a BCID (Bookcrossing ID) which is put on the inside cover of the book along with instructions on how to look it up on the internet. Then I will release the book into the wild, either by leaving it in the LFL or by leaving it somewhere someone can pick it up. For instance, today I left a children's book at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Pincus Education Center. I put a ribbon on it and a tag that read, "I am a travelling book. Take me home, read me, then pass me on. Look on my inside cover to see where else I've been." I left it on a table where a bored kid might pick it up and take it home. Most Bookcrossers will tell you that there is only a 10% "catch" rate. If I never hear from this book again, at least I know that I have released it to entertain someone new. I will be bringing books with me all the time now, releasing them at stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and park benches. It will be particularly fun to leave them in airports and on airplanes to see where they end up. Being an avid reader myself, I can't think of anything more serendipitous than finding a book with a big "Read me" sign.
These activities might seem like a distraction from my writing, but to me they are all inter-related. The act of writing, of touching someone with words doesn't exist without the act of reading. Perhaps this is obvious, but in today's world of emails, internet headlines, and 140 character texts, people forget there is an art to reading as well as writing. It's an art that readers must practice as much as an author does his or her craft. As a writer, it turns me on to see someone turned on by a book. Hopefully someday it will be mine that will light them up.