Books make me happy. Free books kick that happiness up a notch.
I’ve had a few experiences with free books. My parents took my sister and me to the library from a young age. We checked out and in dozens of books each time. I remember that ‘thump’ sound when the librarian inserted a card in a metal device to stamp the due date on it (does anyone know what I’m talking about?).
I still go to the library, and whenever I browse the shelves, I always feel the possibility of coming upon a great book. I’ve discovered some of my favorite books by skimming the spines and flaps of library books.
When I worked in publishing, twice a year my company held Free Book Day to clear the offices of excess copies. All employees were invited to a book-filled room at the headquarters to take as many books as they could carry.
This past Saturday I partook in another kind of free book experience. Circul’Livre is a program in Paris that has been around since 2004 and organizes free book events in eleven arrondissements once a month or more. I headed over to the location near Canal de l’Ourcq in the 19th arrondissement. A site closer to where I live would have been more convenient, but the great thing about the one in the 19th is that it takes place several times a month.
Upon entering the centre social et culturel, I was greeted by one of the two volunteers who were shelving books. I had brought two books to donate, which she asked me to put on the front counter so they could affix a sticker with the program logo to their covers before adding them to the collection. She encouraged me to take as many books as I wanted and said that I wasn’t constrained to choosing two books just because I had brought two.
Not all locations organize books by category, but this one was well-organized: the volunteer showed me that there were sections for fiction (which were alphabetized by author), detective novels, autobiography and biography, travel, foreign language books, pocket paperbacks, and children’s books.
Once I had chosen my books, one of the volunteers simply wrote down my first name and how many books I had brought and taken. The two women who were volunteering were really nice and welcoming. The event time listed on the Circul’Livre web site was 10 to 1, but at 1:15 they were still shelving new books and showing no signs of rushing visitors out.
I’m pretty excited about my selection of books, which include Simone de Beauvoir, Françoise Sagan, and Muriel Barbary. I hope the books I donated find a good home too.