Sunday, 31 August 2014

Little Free Libraries

I've always been something of a fan of roadside stalls and boxes selling a wide variety of produce. When we drive to visit my parents we drive past many little signs for people selling eggs, potatoes, vegetables, firewood, plants etc. And if you've read any of this blog, you know I love books. Well now there is a growing movement of roadside book stalls, not with books to buy but rather books to borrow. They're called Little Free Libraries and there are thousands of them round the world. They're such a great idea, and what's more they look so cute! Typically each Little Free Library has between about 20 and 100 books available for anyone to borrow, free and with no ticket needed and no fines! These mini libraries promote reading and foster a sense of community.

A Little Free Library by Susan McMullan, Lino Lakes, Maine
Many of the Little Free Libraries are made as little model houses with a tile roof, door and windows. This looks really pretty, but actually has a practical purpose, as it keeps out the rain, allows people to see in and open it up to get books out. There's so many different designs out there, as everyone who makes one puts their own unique creativity to work. Some people have even created their own Doctor Who themed library, made to look like a Tardis!

This isn't just a loose, unconnected trend, it is an organised initiative with lots of support for would be Little Free Librarians. Have a look at http://www.littlefreelibrary.org for more details. On the website, you can find a Little Free Library near you - regrettably there aren't many in the UK at the moment, and none near me, but maybe there will be soon. If you want to have your own, you can buy one, make one from scratch or browse and download lots of plans, how to guides and so on. Register your Little Free Library with the website and you are good to go. I'm actually really tempted to have a go at setting up and making one of these myself and put it in the front garden (if I do, I'll post regular updates with my progress). The only slight snag is this is something of a grey area regarding the law, specifically whether you need planning permission. It sounds crazy, I know, but certainly here in the UK there's a possibility that in some areas, you need permission to erect a freestanding structure in front of your property. Of course, this would only be an issue if someone formally complained, and it would have to be one miserable sod to do that (but there are quite a few of those about...)

I've always liked fun, clever ideas that promote reading, and Little Free Libraries are just the latest in this trend. Next up, I'll write a bit about an earlier idea which is still going... Bookcrossing. In the meantime, keep an eye out for a Little Free Library near you, or better yet, set one up!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Bookspotting: Fantasy themed

Tuesday 29th July. On the way home I sat next to teenage guy, headphones in his ears, reading 'The Name of the Wind' by Patrick Rothfuss. This is a chunky epic fantasy novel, the first book in the Kingkiller Chronicles. The guy could almost be me when I was a teenager, head buried in a fantasy tome, albeit he has a cooler hair style than I had...

Patrick Rothfuss came seeimingly from nowhere in 2007 when 'The Name of the Wind' was published. It received a huge amount of popular claim, as well as critical regard from within the sf-fantasy genre. It centres around the main character Kvothe, who relates the story of his life, the majority of the book being in the form of flashbacks.

Across the aisle from me was a bespectacled young woman in a denim jacket, sat reading a hardback copy of 'The Fifth Elephant' by Terry Pratchett (it actually took me a while to get this, involving many surreptitious glances, as the book mostly remained flat on her lap). It was one of those hardback books with a worn clear book protector, a sure sign that this is (or was) a library book. This is a Discworld novel, number 24 to be precise (he's up to number 40 now). This one features  Sam Vines of the city watch, who is sent on a diplomatic mission to the Northern principality of Uberwald. If you are new to Terry Pratchett and Discworld, I'd start somewhere else though, and if you are a die hard Pratchett fan, well you've probably already read it haven't you.

Normally, I'd recommend starting at the beginning, which would be the first discworld book 'The Colour of Magic'. But actually I don't think this is the best book to start with, there are many better Discworld books. I'd start with 'Mort', the first book to feature Death as a main character. That's just my personal opinion though.

That's it for now. A short post, it has been sat in my drafts for a few days waiting for me to add to it, but think it is better to just post as. More soon.