Friday, July 12, 2013

I love books!

Thinking back to my childhood, I remember reading Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Encyclopedia Brown and Anne of Green Gables, just to name a few.

Growing up, our attic was my resource for new books, since I was the youngest of six and had shelves of titles from which to choose.

When I got older, I moved on to Borders, Barnes and Noble and Atlantic Book Stores.

And don’t even start me on the library. I could (and do) spend hours browsing the shelves of our local library, picking up books on everything from vegetarian cooking to thrift shop finds.

(Truth be told, I’d love to open a bookstore some day, just as soon as I win the lottery and get three children through college! I even have a name for it, but that’s a secret for now!)

Last year, I looked around our home and realized we had way too much stuff; stuff such as three shelves of games (that no one in my house likes to play), two tubs of crayons (why do I buy new boxes each school year?), and three bookcases of books (oops, my bad).

I knew we needed to clean out. Luckily, I found a local children’s charity that accepted our games, puzzles, craft supplies and children’s books, but I had a harder time giving away my books. In the past, when I’ve absolutely, positively had to get rid of some of my books, I’ve donated them to our local library for their annual book sale. (I’ve also dropped them off to a used bookstore in return for credit and gotten more books. I know. I have a problem!)

But this time, I came up with another idea. A brilliant idea, if I do say so myself! I decided to start my own book exchange!

And thus, the Book Koop was born. (You don’t even want to know how excited I was when I came up with that name!)

I purchased a plastic container, filled it with the books I wanted to share, put it on my covered front porch, and sent out the following email to family and friends:

“I have a collection of books just sitting on my shelves collecting dust. I hate to see books sit and would rather share them with others. With that thought in mind, I decided to start a book exchange - The Book Koop…
I have filled it with books that I would like to share with all of you. Please feel free to take a book if you are in need or if any look interesting…
If you'd like to leave a book (or two), please do. However there is no need to leave a book if you take one. I will try and check the bin and update the list of books available, so you don't waste a trip if nothing looks interesting…
I don't need the book back (and would suggest you only "share" books that you don't want back as well) so feel free to keep the book unless you want to pass it on to others when you are finished with it."

I didn’t get much feedback at first, and thought briefly of closing down, but when I went out to check The Koop after a month, I noticed quite a few of my books gone, and some new additions to the container. Success!

I recently got an influx of books from one neighbor and am thinking of expanding!

And, interestingly enough, I have had quite a few workmen come and ask about it, since it’s sitting next to my front door.

Having it outside makes it easy for everyone. Friends can come up anytime and pick up or drop off a book, and I can share my love of books with others without cluttering up my house. (Although I have a hard time saying books are clutter!)

I still hit the bookstores, although there are fewer and fewer to pick from these days, and I can’t resist the library, but I’ve also picked up quite a few new books from The Book Koop that I may have never looked twice at when shopping in a book store by myself.

So, while it’s not quite the bookstore I’ve dreamed of opening, The Book Koop is a pretty good start.

I love books!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer Reading

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is catch up on my reading. (Ok, true confessions: I really don't have to "catch up" on my reading, as I do plenty of reading throughout the year. However, for whatever reason, I don't feel as guilty spending an afternoon reading during the summer as I do in the winter months.)

Anyway, I've spent the past few weeks at the beach, surrounded by sand, family, friends and some great books.

Here is what I've added to my "Read" list on Goodreads and, since I dislike long reviews, my very brief opinion of each book.

*The Orphan Train - Christine Baker Kline - A fascinating lesson on this sad era in US History; quick and interesting read.
*Tattoos on the Heart -Gregory Boyle - A must read about a priest, LA gangs, and Homeboy Industries; need I say more?!
The Rescue ~ Nicholas Sparks - A good beach read; typical Nicholas Sparks.
All the Summer Girls - Meg Donahue - Another good beach read, especially since it takes place in Avalon, NJ.
The Silver Star - Jeannette Walls - Walls tugs at your heart strings again with fiction this time when recounting two sisters searching for family.
*Beautiful Day - Elin Hilderbrand - Family drama surrounding a wedding on Nantucket; Hilderbrand at her best.
Sisterland - Curtis Sittenfeld - I just couldn't connect with the characters in this book; good but not great.
The Execution of Noa P. Singleton - Elizabeth L. Silver - A bit long and drawn out, but worth your time.

Warning: Many times I may like/dislike a book depending on my mood and not necessarily on the book. And, let's be honest, everyone has different opinions of what they feel makes a good story.

For that reason, I'll simply tell you that, while I enjoyed all of the above books, the ones with the asterisks were my favorite and ones I gave either four or five stars.

Next on my to-read list:

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls - Anton Disclafani
The Shadow Tracer - Meg Gardiner

I'm always in search of new authors/books, so suggestions are welcome! What are you reading this summer?