BEHIND FAME15 :: You Want to Read? Pull Up a Chair. We’ve Got Books.

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by DENA KOKLANARIS

Welcome to Pittsburgh. We’re a foodie destination. A rising tech star. A haven for artists and science geeks alike. And now more than ever, a book lover’s paradise. If you love to read, you’re in the right place.

Pittsburgh is teeming with writers, readers, and events that celebrate books. This city knows how to make a good sandwich, and it knows the importance of books. Take a walk through our 89 neighborhoods (that’s right, 89), and get ready to meet a “Little Free Library.” Stationed on front lawns and street corners, these miniature structures look like doll houses on wooden stands. Inside, they contain multitudes.

An international program, “Little Free Library” currently lives in over 70 countries and cities across the U.S. Standing tall at over 50,000 libraries, the program has sparked the exchange of over millions of books per year.  Open the tiny door of a “Little Free Library” and you’re guaranteed a surprise. You might discover a new author (I found Amanda Eyre Ward in Highland Park) or hit upon a classic (F. Scott Fitzgerald, right here in Squirrel Hill). Each “Little Free Library” is a chance to carry on an unspoken conversation among readers, a conversation that begins by simply opening a book and turning a page.

Since I first learned to read, books have become my mental oxygen. I’m fascinated by people, places, and things. Books – like all forms of expression – are a way into the hearts and minds of others. A door into worlds I don’t know. An open invitation to the power of imagination. How can I resist?

In times of joy and trouble, I turn to books. They’re my go-to for making sense of the world we live in, and my mainstay for solace. Some days, I only have time for a few pages. Others, I’m plowing through chapter after chapter. But no matter the day, I’ve got a book with me. And except for rare instances when I’ve turned to technology, it’s a hardback or paperback. If Kindle or Nook is your thing, then go for it. Whatever gets you reading. But I’m a tried and true, hold it in my hands book reader. And I refuse to change. The “Little Free Library” is my jam. And best of all, it’s free.

Since returning to Pittsburgh, I’ve delighted each time I discover a new “Little Free Library” and unlocked what’s inside. A few weeks ago, I came upon “Bel Canto” by Ann Patchett, one of my favorites. It’s been over a decade since I’ve read this gem, and I’m ready for round two. I picked it up and walked home. The next day, I contributed my dog-eared copy of “The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides. It was time to let it go. Leave for a reader who has yet to discover Eugenides and his gift for storytelling.

If you’re looking for a new read, take a walk and discover a “Little Free Library.” Chances are, there are several libraries right in your neighborhood (at last count, I tallied 4 in Squirrel Hill alone). I guarantee, you won’t walk home empty-handed. @LittleFreeLibrary. #LittleFreeLibrary

 
Sara RuthComment