The Little Free Library fad caught on a few years ago. At first I was excited.
People putting cute bookshelves-on-sticks in their yards. People sharing books. TAKE A BOOK, LEAVE A BOOK, the sign says.
And then there’s the decorative aspect. Can you match the color of the LFL to your house or flowers in your garden? Yes, you can. The books, alas, don’t match. And so people tend to stock the LFLs with Readers’ Digest Condensed Books from the ’50s. Very disappointing.
The best book I have found in an LFL? Hints from Heloise. I ask you. Can’t they do better? I learned to add raw oatmeal to yogurt.
There are at least 20 Little Free Libraries within a 10-mile radius of my house. Every few blocks somebody has planted a (mostly empty) bookshelf on his/her lawn. There are LFLs on trails. There is an LFL in front of the ice cream store. (You won’t like the book selection: stick to ice cream.) The Kiwanis have built an LFL on a trail in a suburban park. I did once find a book of Jean Kerr’s humor pieces, so I can’t complain about that. There was an LFL at the dog park, but the dog owners are not reading while their happy dogs are bounding around. They are chatting or sitting exhausted on benches. Somebody removed the LFL. It just disappeared. I assume it was the parks workers. Honestly, there were NO books in it! None.
On a recent sunny day, I set out to improve an LFL. Well, I went on a bike ride with some books to give away.
It was a big production: in addition to my thermos, snacks, water bottle, jacket, purse, and bicycle lock. I stuck two huge books in my bike pannier, David Copperfield and Anna Karenina. I don’t know how Dickens and Tolstoy feel about Ann B. Ross, J. D. Robb, and Fern Michaels, but now they have joined their ranks.
Somewhere there is an excellent LFL, but I have yet to find it.
SHOULD YOU/WOULD YOU/MUST YOU LOCK YOUR BIKE IN IOWA?
I recently watched the delightful fourth season of “Girls.” I know I’m the last person on the planet to watch this, but my husband nad I honestly didn’t know or care what was going on when we tried the first season. That means we were too old for it, would be my guess.
But Season Four is set in Iowa. I was curious to see the HBO take on my state. Hannah (Lena Dunham) is accepted in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and moves from New York to Iowa City; well, not the real Iowa City, because the University of Iowa wouldn’t give them permission to film. But Hannah experiences loneliness, homesickness, and culture shock in the ersatz Iowa City. She arrives at the Writers’ Workshop House happily on her pink bike. Then the tall woman on the steps, a fellow student, tells her not to bother to lock it.
“This is Iowa,” she tells Hannah.
I knew that would not end well. And it didn’t. When she emerges some hours later, the bike has been stolen. (Two of my bikes were stolen in Iowa City.)
This becomes a very funny running gag: she gets two locks, chains the bike around the porch, and the bike is stolen again!
My advice: DO LOCK YOUR BIKE IN IOWA CITY.
More advice: LEAVE YOUR BIKE UNLOCKED ONLY IF YOU PROP IT AGAINST THE BENCH YOU ARE SITTING ON.
More advice: IT IS SAFE TO LEAVE YOUR BIKE UNLOCKED AT THE STRIP MALL IN FRONT OF HOMETOWN FOODS IN PANORA, IA.
Write “Dear Bike Lady” for more advice!