The days are cooler, the evenings duskier, and if you step outside late at night and breathe in slow and deep, you can catch a whiff of the crisp, piney approach of fall. And in the morning, if you’re lucky, you’ll find brand-new batches of free books perched along the curbs for miles in every direction.
No, this is not a fantastic description of a place very much like Paradise (though the only thing it’s missing, as far as I’m concerned, is a handful of banana trees). This is early September in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Here, late August and early September is the time of lease-signing. And after the leases get signed? Then comes the cleaning and the packing and the moving, and because some human beings apparently have this thing in them that allows them to get rid of their books – I, to my enduring satisfaction and my fiancée’s endless frustration, was not made of such stuff – more and more slightly used but still fully functioning books appear on the sidewalk with a Post-it note proclaiming them “FREE!” every day.
If you’ve read my blog before, you probably know that I believe every reading life deserves a healthy dose of serendipity in it. And really, there’s no better way to keep your to-read pile surprising and diverse than by picking up a random book or two on your way to work in the morning.
Sometimes, picking through the piles and bags and boxes on the sidewalks, I’ll find titles that, if spotted at a yard sale or a used bookstore, I probably would pay money for. But I try to keep myself particularly open to those books that I probably wouldn’t buy. Every now and again, you find a great new author, or discover a taste for a genre you never thought you’d enjoy. When it comes to such happy accidents, I’d say I’m batting around a .350 – that is, a little more than one great (and not merely okay) find for every three books I pick up. Considering the fact that Ty Cobb, the holder of the highest career batting average in baseball history, swung a .366, I consider my “picking” average pretty darn good.
Below I’ve included a photo of some of my recent finds (and here are a couple links to previous posts about reading randomly, or serendipitously: aquí and ici). I’ve already dug into this stack, and think my average is holding up.
If you live in the area, or in a city full of readers, happy free book-hunting! And thanks to my bookworm neighbors for passing along all the great reads. My fiancée is slowly but surely convincing me of the good aspects of getting rid of, so perhaps I’ll be paying the favor forward soon.