Spreading the Love of Books

The best present my partner and I ever gave each other sits right outside the front of our house. Two years ago at Christmas, we gifted each other a “little library” by hiring a friend to design and build it. As our handy friend finished painting it, she stencilled the name The Book Nook at the top.

We quickly filled The Book Nook and then surreptitiously watched from our front window, smiling with glee as fellow readers discovered it. We witnessed looks of quiet delight as person after person selected the book that was meant for them, and walked off smiling and sometimes already reading!

Our intention was to spread the love of books, but what we quickly discovered was that it was also a catalyst for joy!

There’s the family that arrives en masse in a car every few weeks. Turns out The Book Nook is a destination! There are the neighbourhood kids who sit on our front porch and pet our cats while they’re reading. There is the older couple who walks by every few days and the woman who comes with a Sobey’s bag full of books.

And then there are the daycare teachers who have their little posse of three- and four-year-olds in tow. Listening to these teachers explain how our free little library works is always priceless and never fails to make my day. “These books are for sharing with everyone. We can take one today and then the next time we walk by, we’ll bring a book to put in.”

We’ve met so many kids, dogs, neighbours, and strangers as a result of this “best ever” Christmas present. And in the last two years, our community bookshelf has never once stood empty. Sometimes we have to dip into our own collection and add a few to the mix, but more often than not, it seems to magically refill itself with the most wonderful combination of books.

For me, The Book Nook is symbolic of all that is good in the world. Words, books, sharing, and community. I love that it is old-fashioned. I love that it is simple. And I love that it is purely based on trust. You don’t need anything—no library cards or debit cards or credit cards—to take a book.

And I love that none of the books “belong” anywhere – they simply float from one pair of hands and one beating heart to the next. On and on, in an endless cycle of giving and receiving and giving away again.

I hope this post inspires you to do something similar in your neighbourhood. You’ll be amazed how good it feels.

Author: Renée Hartleib