If You Build It… They Will Come.

Little Van Library is Open

Our Little Van Library is officially open! We could definitely use more books, so today we will let folks know this is here and we’ll see if word-of-mouth will fill the gaps.

I still can’t believe we have actually pulled this off. But hey, where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Little Free Libraries are like handing out smiles. I’m very happy to be able to take part!

Want to more about our Little Van Library? You can read more about how this all came together by checking out: The Makings Of…A Little Free Library

Current location: Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

The Makings Of… A Little Free Library

Today was an amazing day. I accomplished a handful of things that made me extremely, joyously happy. For one thing, I now have a library card for the local library in Lake Havasu (as a full-time traveler, most counties will not provide such a gift, but as I’ve said before – Lake Havasu is a very special place). And, as I left the library, I left with an amazing book haul of purchased books – as much as I could carry in my arms. Yes, I did this. Yes, I still live in a van. But no, these books are not for me, they are for my library. Yes… my library.

This is how many books I can carry at once.

Little Van Library Book Haul

Shopping for our Little Free (Van) Library was so much more fun than shopping for myself! And since I purchased these in the “Friends of the Library” room, the money I spent goes directly toward supporting the local library. Besides, this amazing book haul cost me $6. Local Libraries are one of the best used bookstores ever that everyone forgets! 

Okay, let me back up a little bit now and give some background. What is a Little Free Library you ask?

A Little Free Library is a book trading zone, usually setup in front of someone’s house, or place of business. The person who establishes the Little Free Library buys or builds a location to house the books, and then will usually collect some books to kick things off, or donate from their personal collection. After that point, it should be fairly self-sustainable with people following the rules of the slogan, “Take a Book, Leave a Book”. You can take a book now, leave one later, pass along the book you picked up from one Little Free Library and return it to a different one (which Pays it Forward), or give to a friend to read. Basically, you share the joy of reading. It’s very simple really. 

I first heard of Little Free Libraries years ago and have wanted one ever since. I love sharing books with people, and I love talking books. Once we decided to travel, I figured there was no way we’d ever have one of these. I mean, who ever heard of a Little Free Library that moves? Well, you have. Now YOU have. Because we are making this happen.

A few months ago I mentioned to Dave that as crazy as it would be, I would still love to have a Little Free Library. I told him I knew it wouldn’t be possible, we most certainly do not have the room for it! But his response was priceless. His eyebrows shot up, and he told me the idea was brilliant. That’s pretty much all it takes for me to start brainstorming solutions. So that officially kicked things off.

The trick is, we live in a 22′ foot van. What would we use to store the library? They’re often pretty bulky (see examples here), and they need to be able to sustain being outside in the wind and rain. And for us, they need to be able to be transported on a regular basis.

At this point, we were committed to figuring out some way to do this, and some way to make it fit in a cargo box. So, we moved forward with obtaining a cargo box, which added 16 cubic feet of storage to our van. Wohoo! It was like adding on a basement! Do you know how LARGE 16 cubic feet of storage is when you live by way of spare inches? It’s ginormous! But I digress…

As much as I would love to have a super cute, adorable Little Free Library, like this one we saw in Columbia, Missouri – we knew we needed to be more creative.

Little Free Library

It’s taken me months to figure out a solution, but now that we have, we are just a few days away from having this fully setup!

Storage BoxOur Little Free Library will be housed in a Sterilite Storage Box, and available for use outside our van on a portable camping table that rolls up and fits in our cargo box.

This covers the weather issue, and the portability issue. Because the box is see through, books will be visible from the outside. Before you think I’ve abandoned the cuteness, don’t give up! I have absolutely not!

People will need to know that this is not just personal property, but something that is there for THEM to use and enjoy!

I have made some colorful attention-grabbing flyers for display next to the library box. I’m still working on the final touches, but I’ll go ahead and show you a sneak peek:

LFL Fliers

No, don’t bother trying the domain name, it doesn’t work yet silly! (Edited to add: The domain works now – yay!) I’m still working my way through my to-do list, but I am just too excited about this to not blog about it.

Anyway, the flyers. I’ll have a few of those printed next to the box of books so it’s clear, the books are meant to be touched, taken, and read.

This has been an amazing project to pull together, but now that we have the cargo box, the book-storage box, and an idea of what to do – I am very excited. It makes perfect sense to me to have a shareable bookshelf just outside my van door, ready for one and all to take, borrow, share – and talk books.

Our Little Van Library is almost here! Just a little more yet to do… stay tuned!

Why I Won’t Read Harper Lee’s New Novel

I call foul. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee will be released  on July 14, 2015, and I want to ask, should it be? Should this book be published?

Harper Lee

It was only a few years ago when Harper Lee claimed her agent took advantage of her and duped her into signing over the copyright for To Kill a Mockingbird in 2007  (as of 2012 she again holds the copyright).

Ms. Lee has lived in an assisted facility since 2007, has been losing her hearing, and her vision, and has never once mentioned writing another novel in the more than 50 years that have passed since the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird. In 2014, this article quotes Ms. Lee as saying (about a memoir), “as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood”. In the same article, Lee addresses why she never wrote another novel, stating that, “I already said everything I needed to say…” and compares herself to Boo Radley (the character in To Kill a Mockingbird who is a recluse).

Jonathan Burnham of HarperCollins stated that he has never spoken to Harper Lee directly about her “new” book, and instead has, “communicated with her solely through her lawyer, Ms. Carter, and her literary agent, Andrew Nurnberg.” and that has me concerned.

Has Harper Lee given permission for this book to be published? I have serious doubts, and I’m not the only one.

To publish a book by a living author without their direct consent should be questioned. I feel that reading this book is the same as if I walked into Harper Lee’s house, uninvited, and started poking around her closet! This isn’t a lost literary gem – it’s stealing, and invading the privacy of an author who cherishes her privacy.

Sources:

You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You

Sharon and DaveAs a child, one of my favorite books was called “You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You” illustrated by Edward Gorey. It had alternating sections in back text, or blue text, indicating where to hand the book over and either read, or enjoy the portion being read to you.

Since Dave and I are both avid readers, it didn’t take us too long in the early days of our relationship to run into a reading-related problem. We wanted to each read a short story, of which, we had one paper copy. With only a small amount of free time each evening, it seemed like a good idea for me to begin reading the story to him aloud while he cooked dinner, and then he would read to me later on in the evening. It was a simple problem with a simple solution. We didn’t realize we were creating one of those “us” things. You know, those moments you look back on and realize it was the start of something big? Reading to each other every day is something we have done ever since, now going on nine years!

We discovered several things all those years ago when we began to read to each other. Even though we typically read very different books, it’s also nice to read something else that’s a cross-over book, something we both enjoy, and get to experience together. This broadens our reading experience.

Books are more fun with friends! You know those moments when a book makes you gasp, laugh, shriek, or jump? Even if you are in the same room with someone, this is something you experience by yourself. Perhaps you feel the need to explain what happened in the story, what made you react, but they haven’t gone on the journey with you and cannot share your experience.

Both the experience of being read to, and reading to someone else – is relaxing. It’s a great way to wind down from a stressful day, and get to be together, and from my perspective, much more fun than watching TV!

Reading with someone is like a life-hack. It’s not how the medium of reading was meant to be enjoyed, but it adds another layer that is there for the taking. Happy reading!

A Snapshot of my Reading Life: January 2015

ReadingThis week I’ve been working my way through reading the biography, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. It’s a tough read for me – not because of writing style, but simply because Steve Jobs was such an absolute jerk. And I’m being polite. He was really awful to so many people, for that reason, I’d rather not read this book. However, the history of Apple and of personal computers is interesting to me, so I’m reading it – I just have to keep taking breaks. And in those reading breaks today I discovered:

  • The complete works of H.P. Lovecraft, for free, online. Sadly, prior to today, I had never read anything by Lovecraft, and I see that as a huge gaping hole in my reading life. I remedied this today by reading The Tomb (published 1917) and was astonished! It’s a page turner, and not at all what I was expecting. I shall be reading more of Lovecraft soon, as I now have his entire collection on my Kindle.
  • The blog “101 Books,” by one very determined reader to read (and review) his way through Time’s 100 Greatest Novels (plus Ulysses). Many of the books on that list are ones I have been planning to read, and his reviews are excellent. In fact, I discovered this blog today while attempting to find any other lost souls who are also bored by Virginia Woolf. I tried to read To the Lighthouse. I did. I really, really did. However, I am done trying now, and I appreciate Robert Bruce’s honesty about what he thinks about Virginia Woolf (thank you, you kind soul sir). Anyway, I have bookmarked his list of reviews and plan to read more of them, they are quite enjoyable.
  • A Knowledge Junky’s Heaven in Open Culture – the best free cultural and educational media on the web. I knew about this site, but for some reason, forgot about it. Talk about a tragedy. I spent over an hour browsing the various goodies found here and all I can say is, be sure to make sure you have time before you visit. One of my favorite finds from today was the Commonsense Composition textbook from CK-12, but there are endless treasures to be enjoyed on Open Culture.

Are any of you as tired and cold as I am? I’m ready for Spring now. Any day now.

You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out and DNA Altering Soda

Today I read…

In Books: The movie that many of us now know as THE Christmas movie: A Christmas Story (1983), was actually based on a bookIn God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd, was published in 1966! Did you know this? You can read more about this via Off the Shelf. In the meantime, yet another book was added to my TBR. I have come to accept I will never, ever, read all the books on my To Be Read list!

In Health: Everyone knows drinking soda is unhealthy. But did you know drinking soda daily makes you age faster? Soda drinkers have shorter telomeres than non-soda drinkers (this is related to our DNA). I gave up soda (kicking and screaming) about 6 years ago, I guess sometimes my corn allergy is looking out for me. Okay, not really, but I’m glad I don’t have to worry about this anymore.

And in General News, Marriott is evil. That is all.