Monday, February 19, 2007

The Book Thing

Thanks to A Work in Progress for the inspiration for the following post.

After a visit to The Book Thing in Baltimore on Sunday, I came back with some great finds. All-in-all I came away with 26 books that I have been wanting to read, or books I have read and loved but do not own.

The Book Thing is a wonderful resource, and I hope more cities pick up on a good thing. Their mission is simple, to put unwanted books into the hands of those who want them. Just imagine the thrill of walking into a used bookstore, browsing thousands and thousands of titles. Picking out some cherished favorites, you step over to the counter and record how many books will be leaving with you, smile and say thank you, and go home in utter bliss. It's like a library, except the books can be loaned out forever with no late fees! No pretensions, no admonishments for taking so many books, no requests for financial support. The quiet assumption is that whenever you are able, feel free to bring some books back to share with others. It works. The owner, Russell Wattenberg, says that an average weekend will see 10,000 books walk out of the unheated mini warehouse. For charm city, this is truly one of its greatest, and quietest charms. For every 10,000 that leave, another 10,000 are on their way in. Donations come from all over: rich families, poor families, couples moving in together and combining their books for the first time, public libraries (in a subversive and secretive way to get around beauracratic nastiness), and many many more. During the week, The Book Thing delivers books to public schools, shelters, prisons, basically, anywhere and everywhere books are needed.

So, after my most recent visit, I came away with some wonderful finds, with my favorites pictured above. Darling Isabel stands guard, admonishing me for not picking up any books by her namesake, Isabel Allende. Perusing the classics shelves I came across an old, worn copy of Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders. It was love at first sight. After picking up three more classics, Little Women, A Conneticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and The Scarlet Letter, I sauntered over to the Recommended Fiction shelves. Separated from general fiction, these are the books that are currently popular. And boy, did I get some great books! My eye quickly spotted Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Geraldine Brooks' March (to go along with Little Women, of course!) in near-perfect condition - I was elated! Books that have been turned into movies seems to have been a theme for the day as I grabbed The Hours by Michael Cunningham and In Her Shoes by Jennifer Garner. Right next door on the mystery shelves, I was elated to find H,K,O,P and Q of Sue Grafton's Alphabet series.

I spent the next hour browsing the general fiction shelves. I came away with:

  • A Patchwork Planet, by Baltimore's very own Anne Tyler
  • Say When by Elizabeth Berg
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (I read this a few years ago but never owned a copy)
  • The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch
  • Tough Guys Don't Dance by Norman Mailer
  • Lasher by Anne Rice
  • Cujo by Stephen King
  • For my mom: Labryinth by Kate Mosse and Puerto Vallarta Squeeze by Robert James Waller
I am in book heaven.

As for my current TBR book, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, it's a tosser. Two challenges can not motivate me to finish this book.

The readability of the book is not the problem. But, it makes me so bloody melancholy for no apparent reason! Ayn Rand is not a novelist, she is a philosopher. I disagree with her philosophy, and I'm not about to torture myself by finishing this lengthy oratory of her
ideals with a shoddy plot, stilted dialogue, and unlikeable characters. I believe she may be one of the most over-hyped writers of the 20th century, and one of the few well-known female authors that I DID NOT LIKE.

I think I will be subsititing my alternate Untangling My Chopsticks by
Victoria Riccardi on my TBR list. But first I will read Half of A Yellow Sun, as I'm pretty sure I'm going to like this book. And that is after I finish Aman, by Virginia Lee Barnes and Janice Brody.


maggie moran said...

What a haul! Thanks for adding me to your blog roll. I'll do the same!

I'm thrilled to learn Tyler is a hometown girl. Add her to Poe and Mencken, and you have a well rounded Baltimorian. ;D

cessie said...

Wow the Book Thing sounds soo great. Would love to have it here!!

Nyssaneala said...

Maggie - Baltimore doesn't always strike one as a literary place, does it? You just have to scratch the surface a little. :)

cess - It is wonderful!