Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Grown Any Good Books Lately?

Cymrot's Box

On Capitol Hill they're pushing up like weeds, the free book boxes. Some are organized under the umbrella of littlefreelibrary.org, a group I'd never heard of until yesterday but is apparently an international org with on-line maps showing people desperate for something to read where to find boxes in places like Turin and Detroit. They also sell labels and placards and brochures and suggest building plans and materials.

Other boxes are renegades, sprung up delightfully unregulated.

Self Explanatory
All have but one rule in common. Take a book, and leave one, hopefully in the same box. I'm not too good at this - at least the part about leaving books in the same box I took from -- I tend to wander with something half read, that I'm not about to dump (unless it's dreadful) for something new. But I know I'll require something else in an hour or a day and so rummage in the boxes and grab a book for the thirsty time to come.

The first book box I saw was a few years ago, in front of the junior Cymrots jack-o-lantern colored home on A Street, SE -- sitting there like a Lilliputian renegade branch of Riverby Books on East Capitol Street, which was founded by the senior Cymrots (One is reluctant to categorize Riverby as a used bookstore, since it is so tidily kept and carefully edited, and includes rarities).
Capitol Hill Books Window

Riverby is nothing like Capitol Hill Books, near Eastern Market, a 3-story warren of rooms and books stacked dustily in windows or heaving the shelves. The owner (miraculously) knows where what is but for the browser it's a challenge.

This is the granddaddy of the neighborhood's book free-for-all (if I'm wrong, do tell). 

The one around the Corner from Safeway
Outside Capitol Hill Books is a folding table that is frequently heaped with books, sometimes they're the store owner's rejects, a remaindered book's last chapter as it were. Other times, people dump books when they're moving or are simply done reading and don't like the clutter, bless them. The owner, if he's swift, creams the lot, but often they're wonderful finds (if you haven't discovered the mysteries of Francis Fyfield -- bet you can't read just one).

Those were three paragraphs of beside the point. The point being the book boxes,which can now be found scattered about the neighborhood.

Some are sadly utilitarian, like the one around the corner from Safeway. It's quite large, with a  hinged lid, and often filled with the good and the curious and only a rare bodice ripper.

Mid-Century Modern
It's in front of a (I think) commercial building that always looks to be becoming something -- it has looked that way for thirty some years. Except for the book box, it is the kind of shady place one would suspect is a front for some nefarious dealings. This is my favorite box for rummaging, even though one has to prop the hinged lid on ones head when poking about. But then, a bookie constructed it, I suppose. So what do you expect.

More satisfying for the "shopper" is a book box with a normal door that swings open and stays that way as you make your selection. While I'm not fond of the design of the mid-century modern ranch house number above right (it looks like it belongs to a house with an Edsel in the drive), it does it's job well.

More charming in this neighborhood of late 19th and early 20th century row houses are the boxes that play with their host's design, like this simple one on Lincoln Park, with a grey and white color scheme borrowed from the home:

On Lincoln Park

Right around the corner on Kentucky Avenue is this charmer, with leaded glass panes and a tin roof:

 And then there's this wonderful, multi-story construction on 13th Street, nestled in day lilies and zinnias and considerably grander than the home it belongs to -- no offense homeowner:

I should like one colored like our house: celadon, eggplant, and rose. I've long overflowed the living room bookcases, the hall bookcases, my office bookcases, the upstairs hall bookcases, and books are forever piled unsteadily on the floor and shoved under the bed and tossed around the bathroom floor. Occasionally in a fit of neatness, I pick a sunny day and pile a few armloads out by the curb, where the neighboring book vultures pick through them fast -- but I'd like to be able to leave them out in a downpour, instead of scurrying to bring them in or stashing them in the trunk of the car. 

Maybe for my birthday. Right. The only way that will happen is if My Prince sees that project as a fresh excuse for not cleaning out the garage. Please! Let's not get started again on the garage.



  1. Oooooh...maybe he could build you a brick one with a little teal door and lace curtains to match the garage! And then you could just fling all your books in there, willy-nilly.

    1. But that would only work in the garden, where I'd be the only one to both put in the books and retrieve them. Colorly speaking, teal does not go particularly well with celadon, eggplant and rose. (The garage curtains are greenish and whitish, by the way -- you've been gone way too long).

  2. Ooh, do go on about the garage! Many of us have a "garage" situation in our lives and need a self-help group to cope! btw what a fun and informative piece. I must go around with my eyes closed - I had no idea this was happening.


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