It’s raining (rare in California in May). I’m in Coronavirus quarantine, bleary-eyed in front of my computer. If I could just get away! I click on a Nextdoor post about a little, free library. I’ve enjoyed looking into these tiny libraries on corners in Palo Alto and Berkeley, in front yards in Sebastopol and Santa Rosa, but never saw one in my neighborhood.
The Nextdoor post is an invitation by Sarah and her daughter to come by Lily’s Little Free Library, leave a book and take a book. Take a tiny succulent plant too. How generous, how inviting.
I consider all those boxes of books I have stacked in my office closet. I could easily gift one of those novels. But which? I begin to talk myself out of it. Would Jane Austen have left Pride and Prejudice at a little, free library? Would Charles Dickens leave Oliver Twist? Stephen King Shawshank Redemption? Maya Angelou and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings? Besides all my books can be purchased at any bookstore and on Smashwords, Bookshop and my Writewords Press website.
Nevertheless, it’s an adventure into the unknown and an opportunity to take my dog, Laurel, for a walk. I’ll take a drive to this little, free library on Hilltop Green. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll find a good book to read. I’m feeling better.
I’ve stuffed Spiral, An Epic Adventure in the Ancient Southwest in my purse and Laurel is looking at me eagerly from the back seat of my Honda Civic as I drive off in the rain to 1203 Greenway Drive, Richmond, CA. The GPS says it’s 8 minutes by car.
Despite the GPS, I get lost in this housing development in the Richmond hills, quarantine-quiet this afternoon. Okay, just one more turn, one more dip in the road. There it is, perched on its pedestal across a manicured green park.
Holding Laurel on her leash, I open the little library doors and look through the books. A inconspicuous, grey-toned paperback catches my eye, a coming of age memoir, Ticket to Exile. The title is intriguing, ironic, unforgiving. I see the publisher is Malcolm Margolin of Heyday Books whom I greatly admire for his histories of Native Californians. The author, Adam David Miller seems familiar to me.
“Murray Library” is stamped on the cover and spine. That’s my last name! Inside I discover “Murray Library, 166 East 5300, South Murray, Utah 84107”. Is this an omen? A message? Serendipity?
The cover shows a man’s silhouette in front of a dark house shaded by looming trees; across the bottom is an image of a torn page from a notebook. I’m getting the feeling I know this writer.
Then I remember Adam David Miller, the African-American poet I met at the National Writers’ Union we both attended during the 1990s. I recognize his photo in the frontispiece and am impressed with his bio. I remember Adam as a friendly face at numerous NWU writing events. Paging through his non-fiction story of growing up in the South during the Depression era, I note the quality of the careful prose, the formatting where each chapter is prefaced by a singular poem.
Suddenly the day turns brighter, the grass greener in the rain and I no longer am alone.
I squeeze Spiral between the other books on the top shelf of Lily’s Little Free Library. Adam David Miller’s Ticket to Exile is in my purse now and a tiny succulent in my hand.
Laurel wags her tail, sniffing each tuft of grass as we go through the park. I wonder how a little, free library might work out in my own front yard.
Concerned about the Quarantine? Click on Best Practices at Little Free Libraries During the Coronavirus Outbreak