By now we are all familiar with Little Free Libraries, those adorable wooden boxes in people’s yards that look like birdhouses and are stocked with books. There are 10 Little Free Libraries in my neighborhood. When the movement started, I was thrilled.
“I can’t wait to see what people are reading,” I said excitedly. The LFL book-sharing philosophy is summed up by the sign, TAKE A BOOK, GIVE A BOOK.
But the Little Free Libraries have disappointed. Often the books are thrown in higgledy-piggledy, and the spines are cocked and the pages foxed by the time you find them. The windows of two LFL boxes in the neighborhood are broken, so the winds gust in and do not improve conditions.
We have optimistically donated some classics and literary fiction, yet they languish there for months. The Man without Qualities was a hard sell, so eventually we took it back. Giggling, I once threatened to drop off The Tale of Genji (1200-some pages). The typical fare is Richard Patterson, Danielle Steel, vampire books, romances, and Georgette Heyer. Once I fell under the spell of some excellent literary bloggers, and took home Georgette Heyer’s Devil’s Cub, because she was said to be a charming, witty writer of Regency romances, and compared to Jane Austen. This turned out to be false advertising. I dutifully returned Devil’s Cub. It is still there.
Today as I looked in dismay at the crumpled copies of John Connelly, John Grisham, and old Sue Grafton mysteries, I had a brainstorm. I will start a “themed” Little Free Library. I might call it Banned and Damned! But then the scary right-wing moms might descend upon me, even if I have a For Adults Only sign, or the City Council, due to complaints, or perhaps the ultra-conservative governor. The right-wing legislators in my state propose legislation for banning books. But I have to believe the banners are not great readers, and at random want to ban books they have heard of, but not read. Perhaps we should sign them up for an English class.
Since my husband won’t even let me put a peace sign in the yard, I doubt that Banned and Damned will fly. How about Books That Make You Think? Or Classics & Controversy?
Although I could not possibly stock Lady Chatterley’s Lover – it is no longer banned, but I cannot say it would fly in this political climate – I would fill my shelves with Faulkner, whom the right-wingers have not yet discovered, and perhaps Lawrence’s The Rainbow and Women in Love, both banned, but less explicit than Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
How about Thoreau? He is still controversial in the 21st century. I thought everybody would want to live the simple life by Walden Pond, but two conservative, affluent friends of mine had a fit when I mentioned his name. I will include the other Transcendentalists, too because they are such great writers. Concord, Massachusetts, was the center of 19th-century radical American thought!
We will also add the Beats, the feminists, science fiction, and poetry.
More suggestion for an LFL name and thought-provoking books are welcome.