The Little Red Book Box.

“A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition. Like money, books must be kept in constant circulation… A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold.”

― Henry Miller, The Books in My Life

Do you remember those snazzy red telephone booths from back in the day? Well, that’s what I thought of, when I stumbled across the little red book box at our local park. It was drop dead gorgeous. Indeed, to be perfectly honest, I wanted to take it home with me…along with the book. Designed to withstand the weather, it houses an arm full of books. The concept is, that you take a book and leave a book. So, it operates as a free, community-minded, book exchange.


How good is that?!!

Well, I guess the system is only as good as it’s “clientelle”. Like those roadside food stalls with an honour box to leave your money, this system depends on trust. Integrity. Honesty. You need to be a giver and a taker.

Not a cheat and book thief like yours truly, who took a book without leaving one behind. Well, I didn’t have a book with me, and I do plan to drop one back. I truly do, even though I find it exceptionally hard to part with any of my books. Indeed, they might need a crow bar to pry the book out of me.

So, what was the book? It was Alexander McCall Smith’s: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. I have other books in the series, but not the first one. So, it was a good find.

Now, I just need to read it.

Looking at my book pile, that could be a problem…along with parting with a book.

Humph…no one said that it had to be one of MY books, did they? That definitely puts a different slant on it.

Do you have anything like this book exchange system where you live? It’s a great idea!

xx Rowena

PS Just a little coincidence. I’m currently reading Markus Zusak’s: The Book Thief. Obviously, it’s led me astray.

PPS: It turns out that the little red book box in our local park, has “friends”. Known as “little free libraries, they’re the brainchildren of our local library. What a great idea. Sounds like I should be investing in a new trench coat to transport my book choices in appropriate attire. Wouldn’t that be great! Much better than a brown paper bag.


25 thoughts on “The Little Red Book Box.

  1. James J. Cudney IV

    What a great concept. Loved this post and the pictures. The closest I have is a library in the basement across from the laundry room of my apartment building. It has close to 1000 books, possibly more. Occupants leave books and take books, on the honor system. You’re not supposed to give them to people outside the building, and we return them once reading so others have a chance to experience it. I’ve donated about 20 book and probably found 20 or so in the last year I wanted to read.

  2. Rowena Post author

    I love the sound of that, James, especially when it’s contained within your building and you could potentially touch base over the books.
    I trawl through opportunity or charity shops and pick up a lot of good books that way, and I grab second copies of favourite books, which I pass on to friends. It’s such a good feeling to pass on a pass which has helped change, shape or simply entertained you, especially when it only costs a couple of dollars.

  3. trentpmcd

    Little Free Libraries are a huge trend. I’ve only seen a few, but I’ve tons of pictures of them. My problem is the opposite – I want to stuff about 1000 books that in stacks around the house into one. That few still wouldn’t reduce the clutter, but it would be a start… Do I have to take before I can give? 😉

  4. Debbie Harris

    These are great ideas aren’t they? I saw one in a park recently which was an old bar fridge complete with a water bowl for a dog, how thoughtful!!

  5. Rowena Post author

    That sounds fantastic, Debbie. I’d love to see a photo if you’ve got one. If you post it, I’ll add a link to mine. That sounds so delightfully Australian.

  6. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much, Christine. That’s a great idea for books for kids up one end. I really like the design of this one, although I did wonder whether a higher shelf would be better to allow for tall books. As you would’ve noticed, I loved the red colour and it really helps the box stand out.

  7. New Journey

    In many neighborhoods around the US they have little book nooks, or houses, most have a door and shelves and everyone shares there books….I know that in the RV parks where we stayed, many have a huge library in the laundry rooms and you take and leave books at will….kinds nice I think…..xxkat

  8. Rowena Post author

    I love that idea of swapping books. At my kids’ previous school they had a book bank, where a company provided kids with a book of their choice from a list each term. You can read about it here:
    I love those kind of community sharing things. Draws people together, even though you probably never meet the person who left the book behind. xx Ro

  9. New Journey

    That looks like a wonderful organization…love that they use red, I first thought it said Blood Bank…LOL…I have been known to leave a little note tucked in between the pages of how much I enjoyed it and hope they do to…I am a huge believer in “playing it forward” xx

  10. Rowena Post author

    Perhaps, you should talk to your local library and make a suggestion. Apparently, they’re quite common throughout the USA so that could provide a good case study.
    A few years ago, I was one of a group of mums who wanted a fenced park for keeping our toddlers safe. The idea took off and our local park received state funding and has become such a community gathering place. Most people don’t know how it started out and how from our small idea, such big things grew.

  11. Rowena Post author

    The note is a fabulous idea. I’ll pinch that one. I believe in “paying it forward” too. It’s easy to forget how doing something small can make such a difference to someone else. I always feel we need to move mountains and then it’s easy to miss those opportunities.

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