I wandered through the aisles of free books while sipping my glass of red wine and throwing back some cheese cubes. This is heaven, I thought. Then, Oh shit, is it really heaven, did I die? The Book Thing is a place where all the books are free and you can take as many as you want with no conditions attached. Well, one, you can’t resell any of the books. They even offer you boxes or tote bags to facilitate your haul.
Its mission is “To put unwanted books into the hands of those who want them.” I love the pureness of the Book Thing, its simplicity and focus. “Give us books and we give them to other people. Or take books if you want to.”
When a fire devastated its building more than a year ago, the Book Thing closed to rebuild and come back better than ever. Now I was at the preview party a few nights before its Grand Opening and I soon found myself with a glass of Shiraz and a plate of nibbles that I carried through the book stacks. Just a peek, it won’t hurt anything, I told myself. Remember, NO books. You don’t need any more books right now. I’m such a nag sometimes.
After trying to balance my wine and the books I was grabbing off the shelves, I picked up a small tote bag and swore to myself that I would not get any more than fit in the tote. I’ve been on a spy kick lately so how could I pass by the John Le Carré paperbacks? And I’m a few books in Tana French’s Murder Squad series so no way in hell was I passing up a hardback of the next title. My tote bag was full and my wine glass was empty so I walked toward the entrance when I saw “The Best Short Stories of World War II.” I’m only human. My final grab was “The Golden Bough,” allowable since I grabbed it for a friend who was doing some research on religion and magic.
I ended up with twelve books. More than the zero I had allowed myself and much fewer than I could’ve carried if I’d grabbed a box. As I left with my bag full of books on one shoulder and my other arm clutching the overflow volumes to my chest, I saw a little cat come out from an interior room and take a look around. Confirmed. Heaven on earth.