Thursday, July 07, 2016

My Little Free Library war: How our suburban front-yard lending box made me hate books and fear my neighbors

Tuesday, Jul 5, 2016 - Salon - Dan Greenstone                       


This gift from my wife was supposed to be harmless fun — but now when people stop, all I feel is dread

A Little Free Library lending box in Hudson, Wis. (Credit: AP/Jim Mone)
Saturday mornings unsettle me. Especially when the weather’s good. There’s a lively farmers’ market just down the street from us, with a bluegrass band, homemade donuts and vegan tamales. It’s great, if you’re into that sort of thing.
But it means floods of the worst kind of foot traffic. Graying gardeners and aging hippies; Bernie-or-Bust types; millennial parents, tatted and pierced, shepherding toddlers with names like Arya — damn near every one of whom stops to check out my Little Free Library.
And after paying $18 for an heirloom tomato and a pair of zucchini, you can’t blame a person for grabbing a free book. Indeed, this kind of neighborly interaction was exactly what my wife Heidi was hoping for when she got me the library for Hanukkah. Heidi’s the sunny and optimistic type, yin to my cranky yang, which made her an easy mark  for the Little Free Library Foundation and its stated mission of promoting “the love of reading and to build a sense of community.”
She and the kids did it up right, painting ours lilac to match the color of our Victorian house. The library makes a striking contrast with the verdant green that blankets our block in the spring. But idyllic as that sounds, when the marketeers, wagons in tow, stop to fiddle with the latch and peer inside, all I feel is dread.

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