Free Free, Set Them Free

June 27, 2012 in Library

I am a ravenous consumer of books and fully support my local library. My accumulated late-fees alone probably funded the recent renovation of the children's wing. However, there is always something sad about that moment when I have to release a book into the deposit box, not unlike the heartbreak of leaving ones sweetheart at the end of the pier on the last day of summer camp.

In theory, I love the idea of loaning books to friends, but in practice, I am we ll aware of just how much of my beloved book collection is made up of books that other people long ago loaned me, and so I have been trying to change my habit of “loaning” to one of “passing on” the books I can bear to let go.

For the past couple of years, we've had a shelving unit in the garage where unread books go to await their fate. Currently, these shelves are home to more than a hundred books-in-waiting. When my Mother-In-Law moved in, they saw some action as she read her way through the stacks. My friend Susanne likewise learned to treat the garage shelves as our private lending library. I like having the shelves out there, holding all that promise, but I don't dig into it often enough and I knew that eventually something was going to have to be done with the ever-expanding stacks. Then, over the last few weeks, boxes of books began arriving on my doorstep. New and exciting books. Odd little gems. Books dusted with spices and some weathered by time.

While researching online book-swapping, I stumbled across Book Crossing and immediately fell in love with the idea. Book Crossing functions on a different model than other swapping sites, and describes its mission as “connecting people through books”. Part social networking and literary travelogue, it encourages book-lovers to catch and release books in their own community and then follow them as they journey around the world.

My point in telling you all of this? Mostly because I'm a hesitant joiner in general but this bit looks like it might be fun. After all, I suspect that some of the books on my shelf would like to see the world, or at least more of it than they're seeing inside my garage. So Check out Book Crossing's basics and let me know if you're game to give it a whirl.

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