My blog of July 8, 2014 was about the effects of random acts of “niceness.” It told the story of one writer’s decision make a conscious effort to be kind to a stranger each day. When she opened her eyes to the opportunities, she discovered people all around her were performing similar acts of kindness and the knowledge changed her view of the world. I liked her story but was lucky enough to find one better. It came from a blog follower who wrote to say that after reading my account of library boxes (12/6/13) she’d decided to build one.
During the construction, she sent pictures of the various phases, proud of her work as she had a right to be. But when she’d finished her project, she wondered how next to proceed. As fate would have it, she struck up a conversation with a librarian. The lady behind the checkout counter was so delighted by the woman’s project, she sent her home with an armload books, those that were about to be removed from circulation. With her library box brimming, my reader wondered how her neighbors would react.
She didn’t have long to wait for an answer. The children came first. They were curious about the brightly painted little library and when they were told the books were free, they couldn’t contain their delight. Their small hands thumbed through the selection and the box didn’t disappoint. Many titles called out to them. Soon after, their parents came to investigate and when they discovered how the lending library worked, they went home with material for themselves. After that, the book exchange began in earnest. The woman who had built the box was so encouraged, she decided to build a second, one that contained a daily poem.
People walking by were intrigued by the new box. Several stopped to read each day’s selection, nodding their heads and sometimes laughing at the playful lines of e. e. cummings, for example.
Without a doubt, the little boxes, one for books and one for poems, were working a powerful magic on the neighborhood. The woman was making new friends, reading interesting books that were left in exchange and getting to know her neighbors in a way not formerly thought possible. Her generous heart had changed her corner of the world for the better. But I’m not the one to convince you of that. Her words speak for themselves:
Last weekend, a mother and her two daughters were passing by and I invited them to take a book from the lending box. The daughters assured their mother it was OK (she didn’t speak English) and each tentatively looked through the stack of books until they found something they liked. Before they turned to leave the oldest little girl asked if she could give me a hug. Then her little sister stepped forward for hers and then their mother. It was the nicest book exchange I’ve ever had.