Archive for the ‘Books and Libraries’ Category

Fall In Love With A Book.


valentine_book_imageIt’s Valentine week! Time to fall in love, even if the object of your affection is a book.

This week at the Little Free Library, I’ve dug up all the red-themed covers I could find, and filled the top shelf. Come and get one.


Some great stuff on the other shelves, too, including a Richard Brautigan compilation (you gotta love him, you aging hippies) and some cookbooks, a new Nelson DeMille and a “Found” magazine, filled with fascinating stuff.


Lots of stuff for little kids, too, so bring ’em along.

It’s still winter. Lots of time left to curl up with a good book.


Today at the Little Free Library



Winter’s coming… time to grab a good book to curl up with on those chilly nights. (You might even find a movie in the LFL, if they’re not gone by now.) Here’s a sample of what we’ve got this week:

• Gerald’s Game, by Stephen King
• Yesterday I Cried, by Ilanya VanZant
• The Food Revolution, by John Robbins
• What is My Cat Thinking? by Gwen Bailey
• Unfit For Command, by John O’Neill
• Portrait of an Artist  as a Young Man, by John Irving
• The CEO of the Sofa, by P.J. O’Rourke
• Lots more!

Lots of books for teens and younger children, too. They seem to move the quickest, which surprises me, but makes me happy, too. When I was a kid, books were my Great Escape. Maybe they still are.

• A couple of Sweet Valley High paperbacks
• Big Sister, Little Sister (which when turned around becomes Big Brother, Little Brother)
• Fifth Grade Magic
• Yours Till Niagara Falls

Come and get ’em!


The Joy of Delayed Gratification.


It’s been a busy month, and a really expensive one, too. Dinners with friends, auctions, gas for road trips, entertaining, veterinary bills, higher car insurance rates… you know how it goes. You can plan and budget all you like, but life has a way of intervening in all kinds of ways.

So when I saw the PERFECT bench for my Little Free Library at the Serendipity shop, I was hesitant to jump out of the car and plunk down the $24 for it. Not a lot of money, but it wasn’t quite close to my next Social Security check, and I have a few rules about my cash: I won’t put anything on my credit card unless it is an absolute necessity, and I won’t take money out of my savings account for fun stuff.

But there it was, sitting on their lawn just waiting for ANYONE to take it, when in truth it belonged to me. (At least heart-wise.) I’d drive by every day and look for its green paint. I’d watch to make sure nobody was sitting on it or looking at it. I’d watch for the little cut out hearts on each end to make sure it was still there.

And finally the check came, and I rushed over there and pulled off the sales ticket. It was mine! Paid for up front, with no money gone from savings, nothing added to my (thank you GOD) zero balance credit card. Whew!

There was a sign behind the counter, too: “I SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT IT WHEN I SAW IT.” I was glad I didn’t have to say that.

Here’s the bench. It’s a beauty. It needs a little TLC, but I don’t plan to put it out there until next spring, so I have time to think about what color to use. Or time to think about which friends might take on the project if I buy the paint for them? Of course I have someone in mind, and they know who they are. (But that’s a story for another day.


Sometimes it feels good to have to wait for things. In this day of instant gratification, of which I often indulge, it is nice to have something to look forward to that you can’t have right this minute. Sometimes when you wait and think about things and consider their possibilities, it seems all the more wonderful when you actually get them.

* * *

Meanwhile, for instant gratification I found these lovelies at recent auctions. I bought this whole box of glass figures just to get this weird little ostrich. How often do you see something like that? You will if you come to my house. He’s in the kitchen.



And while they’re technically not from an auction, they’re from a roadside stand in Trego, Wisconsin, and I’m hoping the deer won’t eat them. The second one is actually somewhat silvery. Who grows silver pumpkins? (Some farmer in Wisconsin, apparently.) I love these.


One last thing: A funny sign a friend found on Grand Avenue. I noticed the other day they erased the “Ass,” though you can still see the remains. I’m glad he caught it when he did!

Photo Credit: Don Fraser

Photo Credit: Don Fraser


Your Sex Questions Answered.


Not by me, of course. That would be a colossal waste of both our times. I am neither a teacher nor a doer at this particular time in my life, but hope springs eternal.


I found this wonderful old 1934 book at an auction and paid $3 to learn everything a modern mother and father should know. My first thought was that mothers and fathers probably already learned enough about sex just by becoming mothers and fathers, and now they are too tired to do anything about it. It’s the rest of us who could use some info!


Inside the book, aside from a wealth of sexual information for mothers and fathers only, there is a handy conception wheel, which tells you the two days you may conceive. (I’m guessing there are more than two, just from watching “Judge Judy.”) The rest of the days are “free time.” Who knows what mothers and fathers may do with that? We can only imagine.


The author, Hildegarde Esper, has quite a reputation in the world of books and movies. Along with her husband (whom I presume helped her with her “extensive research”) she produced a lot of controversial films, such as “Narcotic” and “Maniac.” Wow.


She was quite a gal; ahead of her time, and some kind of free thinker. You can read more about her here:

PS: I know my friend Dave is going to say “Oh, I know all about those two,” but some of us have been very busy since 1934.

Go. See.

This Week at the Little Free Library


Along with a great assortment of books, today you would have found a picnic bench for relaxing, and some free bottles of ice water. If you’re jogging or biking or walking along the Lakewalk, this is a good spot to stop and take a break.


Here’s some of what you’ll find this week:

• North Toward Home, by Willie Morris
• Sycamore Road, by John Grisham
• Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares (“Bra Shares,” get it?)
• The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, by Stephanie Mayer
• God — A Biography, by Jack Miles
• The Cat Who Went Underground, by Lillian Jackson Braun
• Alone, by Admiral Richard Byrd
• The Official NFL Book of Brett Favre


Also lots of books for little kids, plus DVDS and VHS movies. Come on down!

This Week at the Little Free Library



Since the snow’s melted, it’s been a busy time for the Little Free Library. People are dropping off armloads of books, and other people are coming over to borrow them or simply browse. It’s fun to check it out every day and see who’s left what.

Can’t seem to keep enough children’s books, which makes me glad. I remember so well the joy of learning to read (even Dick and Jane and Tip and Mitten were exciting to me) and I’m glad to know other kids are feeling the same. It was the very beginning of a lifetime of reading thrills.

Here’s a sample of what’s available today:

Tender at the Bone by food writer Ruth Reichl (actually, two copies available)
Mac OS8 Instruction Book (yours free!)
The Great Santini by Pat Conroy
The Great Orion Mystery by Bauval & Gilbert (sphinx related, I think)
Eat the Rich by PJ O’Rourke, which sat on my bookshelf for years, so I’m giving it up
The Red Hunter by William F. Buckley Jr (based on the life of Sen Joe McCarthy)
Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss (One woman’s journey toward Godliness)
Women & Money by Suze Orman, which I should probably read but won’t…

A very nice person dropped off a bunch of books for small kids, including a series of Thomas Train ones, which I expect will go quickly.

What are you reading these days? Come on over and have a look. You might find your next favorite author here.

This Week at the Little Free Library



I took a picture of the area outside of the Little Free Library just so you can see how much snow we’ve had this winter. Despite that, the Library is doing well, as evidenced by all the footprints in front of it. (There’s a picture I should have taken.)

Also, note to self: If you are taking a picture of something that has reflecting glass on it, don’t park right in front of it. Dope.

Many of the Little Free Libraries around town are hard to get to because of all the snow, but since mine was anchored close to the shoveled sidewalk, access is pretty easy. People come and go, leaving stuff and taking stuff. Funny how certain books leave for a while but come back and get taken again. Every day is different.

My dear friend Rick sent a box of books at Christmas time, so those will be going in soon. My other dear friend (they’re all dear, aren’t they? We’re so lucky to have them!) April sent me home with several books to add to the Library, too.


So this week at the Gilliat Street Little Free Library, you will find something good for everyone:

• My Name is Aram, by William Saroyan

• Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

• The Lost World, by Michael Crichton

• The Body Farm, by Patricia Cornwell

• I Know This Much is True, by Wally Lamb

• Heaven Is For Real, by some little kid

• Moon over Madeleine Island, by Jay Gilbertson

• A Balcony in the Forest, by Julien Gracq

• Sizzle, by Jane Anne Krentz

For the younger crowd:

• Magic Window Book of Games & Puzzles

• Mister and Me, by Kimberly Willis Holt

• When I Grow Up

• The Wurst Seller

• Finding Nemo (VHS)

There’s lots more, including some medical journals and oddball cookbooks. Come and see!

(Corner of 43rd Ave East & Gilliat Street in Lakeside)

The Little Free Library This Week.


Unlike the main public library and its many branches, the Little Free Library is open every day of the week, 365 days a year. It’s open all day long. It’s even open at night, but you’ll have to bring your own flashlight.

This week at the Gilliat Street Little Free Library, you’ll find all sorts of treasures for readers of all ages. The inventory changes every day, depending on who’s taken what and who’s left what behind, but some of this week’s offerings include:

• Annie Leibovitz photos of Olympic athletes
• Two novels by Larry Watson
• The Philosophy of Kant
• Crime novels by Timothy Halliman
• Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera
• A cookbook or two, though those never last long, so hurry
• A few magazines, including “The Sun,” with the world’s best fiction
• Books for little kids and a teenagers

You’ll also find a supply of creative black & white street scenes by local artist Byron Johnson (find him at and a few DVDs and VHS movies.

The library’s always open. It’s great entertainment, and it’s absolutely free. You don’t need a card, there are no fines, and you don’t even have to return the book if you don’t feel like it.

Come on down!

Little Free Libraries: Go See Them!


On Wednesday, my friend Kathy T and I took a drive around town to visit the Little Free Libraries that we know about. (I’m sure there are more, but they aren’t all on the website’s map.) There’s a nice one at 3rd Avenue East and 9th Street, which we visited, but I forgot to take a picture. Meanwhile, here are some others.

We took some books and we left some books. It was a fun mini-road trip. Go visit them!

This one is on West Mankato Street in Woodland. It’s cleverly painted to match the owner’s house.

This one is decorated with Christmas lights, so may be lit up at night. What a great idea! It’s in the 3800 block of Allendale Avenue in Woodland. I love the funky roof:

My favorite (next to my own) is at the intersection of Dodge Street and 40th Avenue East. Beautiful surroundings and a good mixture of interesting books. The nice lady who lived here went indoors and brought us an armload of cookbooks that she’s giving away:

This one is close to home, on 43rd Avenue East and Luverne Street. If you walk around the corner, you’ll be at my real favorite one, at 43rd and Gilliat. A Twofer!

Mosey on over to 17th Avenue East and Jefferson Street, and you’ll find this lovely one with a few rules tacked to the door. I didn’t read them. I don’t believe rules apply to me. (But I digress.)

A block down the road, at 16th Avenue East and Jefferson, you’ll find this funny creative one made just for kids. They must love it!

Next time I get a stack of kids’ books, I’m taking them over there. I love the crooked little window and door! And I thought this was a nice reminder to kids (and adults, too.)

(“Take. Read. Give. Enjoy.”)

That’s kinda what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Read any good books lately? Tell us about them!

Best “Little Free Library” on Earth


When you love what you’re doing, it shows. And when I saw Rob and Toni Morse’s home a few weeks ago, I knew they both loved what they do (especially sharing a love of home) and I knew Rob would be the best person to build a perfect Little Free Library for my yard. And I was right!

Rob and I worked together at HBJ years ago, and he’s someone that could always make me laugh. Even years after he left the company, if I heard his name, I’d start laughing, just thinking of some of our past conversations. Husband, father, designer, sign maker, stand-up comedian and all-round good guy, Rob taught himself the basics of carpentry, I guess, and his talent and love of creativity shines through in anything he builds.

So we discussed options for the Little Free Library that I’ve wanted for so long, and came up with a few rules (Not too outlandish; must be recognizable to the general public, should have at least one shelf and glass doors) and I knew the project was in good hands. In less time that it took me to simply write about it, the thing was done.

It is beautiful. I love having it in the yard. I am so pleased to see how many people use it. The original supply of books and movies has been replaced with more books and magazines; notes from passers-by, and a few other surprises. I especially love seeing little kids and their parents perusing the stacks, or people on bikes who saw it from the Lakewalk and decided to investigate.

The thing has been registered but I haven’t received the official plaque yet. When it arrives, the Little Free Library will be on the national list of LFLs, and appear on the online map so people will be able to find it. But for now, traffic is not a problem!

Everything's gotta start somewhere, doesn't it?

Rob Morse, Builder of Anything.

Lakeside clay. Gardeners hate it.

Tools of the trade.

Don't forget the concrete!

Leveled and allowed to set up for the night. Caused some gawking from passersby.

A thing of beauty! Official unveiling: June 25, 2013

Take a book. Leave a book. Or don't!

The Unveiling Party: Toni, Kay, Jerry, Jean, Dave and Rob

First visitors arrived 1 hour after unveiling. Happy to see them!

Come and visit! Get comfy… there’s good reading to be found.