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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Compulsive OverReaders Anonymous, or My Little Free Libraries And Me

I used to love Little Free Libraries, those adorable little book houses on sticks in somebody's front yard. Every dog-walk turned into a treasure hunt, not to mention a place to off-load booky clutter caused by having Book Velcro.

You see, I have long had Book Velcro, a delicious and dangerous disease. I just have to walk past a bookshelf and ten of them stick to me. I remember once biking home from a library used-book sale, the bike trailer filled with three large boxes of books ($5 dollars/box) and our toddler balanced preciously on top of the lot of them. (Clearly, my spouse has Book Velcro as well.)  Every end of school year, we buy another box or two from the children's school library so they'd have some easily accessible summer reading. And nobody wants to get rid of any, because we might want to read them again. Many times. (Mostly, we do.)

Then, came Little Free Libraries. They were so charming and fun. No more were you stuck with nothing good to read on a  national holiday with the libraries and bookstores all closed. We'd map dog walks around them, off-load books into them, getting rid a little of that book clutter, supposedly, though we always wound up carting more home. My littlest one thinks those are actual libraries. "Let's go to the library," she'll say, when what she means is, let's visit the turquoise book house three blocks over, the one with children's hand prints painted all over it.

But now, these book houses are everywhere. Where we live, I'm talking everywhere. One in front of my mom's old house--that's new. One directly across the street from it--never noticed that before. Okay, we can zig-zag to this one and then back again to the next. Only, within a week, another one is installed four houses up the block--isn't that kind of overkill?

And they all contain such interesting books!

Look, we already knew the ones heavy on mysteries, thrillers, romance, children's books, the ones that lean literary or the ones filled with "Advanced reader's copies," making me wonder which of our neighbors work in publishing or do book reviews. If life is rough and we need the equivalent of a sitcom, we know the Little Free Library most likely to sport humor. If we're reading to dig into something deep, we can swing by the second one on Portland Ave to pick up The Kite Runner," or something by Frank Chin--who tends to write both funny and deep. If we're really lucky, we'll get somebody dumping their library on something we're researching--like the five books on race that I found in front of a "modest" house on the fanciest street in a fancy neighborhood.

Which leads me back to Book Velcro. Okay, I should stop complaining. Because those books on race books were insightful and interesting. And after all, I wouldn't know Frank Chin if it weren't for Little Free Libraries. Somebody else's reading choices introduced me to someone I would not likely have found on my own, an author I love. And remember, these expensive books are free free free, if we happen to stumble across them. Our walks and bike rides (and sometimes drives--brakes screech when we see another one) really are a treasure hunt for books.

 But, if you looked around my dining and living room at the piles and piles waiting to be read, or if you realized how hard it is to work up a good sweat bike-riding when you stop three times in one block--

Okay, maybe it's not fair to blame those adorable little houses. Maybe this post should really be about self-control. Maybe I should begin it with, "Hi, I'm Sakki. And I'm a compulsive OverReader. And I'm willing to turn my life over to a power greater than Little Free Libraries. . ."

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