So many words have poured out in the past few days, and no doubt will continue to do so, about the horrific events in Paris this week. I can’t add anything to them that isn’t trite or obvious. So let’s move on and look at something positive. This post is about a small event but a great initiative.
This is a case where I wasn’t sure whether to publish this post here or on my writing blog. But since it’s about a local project, I think it belongs here.
I hadn’t heard about street libraries, where people donate books and they are made available in a public place for people to borrow. The idea is that you take a book to read and return either the same book or a different one, or several. The idea originated in the States, I believe, and has caught on in a big way elsewhere.
A Dutch lady, whose name I won’t try to write, in the local town of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, thought it would be a good idea to set up a street library there. The idea appealed to people and the Little Free Library was born.
A Dutch craftsman made a handsome cabinet to keep the books in and it was inaugurated today. It occupies pride of place on a wall in the main street. Writers Abroad friend Doreen asked if I would go and kick things off by putting a copy of my novel into it, as a “local author”.
The first time I’ve ever been asked to open anything officially! It could well be the last. Having had my hair cut this morning, I looked like a chicken. Not quite the style I wanted to achieve. Never mind; this event wasn’t about me.
About 20 people turned up: British, French and Dutch. They donated books they didn’t need any more in those languages, and in Occitan, the local dialect. There’s still room for more, but it was a start.
I made sure my book was placed next to Donna Tartt’s best-seller, The Goldfinch. That is about as near as it’s likely to get to bestseller-dom. But maybe something will rub off.
There were no speeches and no fireworks. Just a quiet celebration of the joys of books and reading and, most of all, of harmony between people of different nationalities. We could do with a bit more of that these days.
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