We received many excellent donations over the last three days and when the library was quiet around 3pm today I sat and glowed at the beauty of books. Jerome came in on Saturday morning and over a coffee we had a chat about the books he brought in and the theory of the multiverse - he lost me at the moment of a fundamental event (at which point the universe splits?) but I hope I never stop to marvel at other people's knowledge. Judy Lemezis from the Wellington Square Bookshop in Exton gave us a bunch of gems - from health and wellness to history and soccer. Elizabeth Shepard returned with another collection of perfect paperbacks for the shelves - including Forensics For Dummies. We now have everything.
And Ginkgo, Jerome and Michaelann's super friendly dog had a good look around - we need a water bowl and treats.
Our Little Free Library book exchange box arrived today - it will be installed outside so that people can take a book and return a book at anytime day or night. We're thinking of filling half of it with books for children and young adults and half with fiction and health and cookery books for their parents - the kind of reading you may crave or need on your way home from work.
And the felt coasters arrived - their journey was long but they are beautiful.
Derek Jarman's Garden is my first pick of the week - pick of the week being a new thing I started tonight - because if one book characterizes the library this is close to perfect. This is the last book Jarman wrote and it's a record of how he tended an inhospitable piece of coastal shingle, close to the Dungeness nuclear power station in south Kent in England, into a happy garden that shows how it is possible to grow a whole seed catalog of plants in the most unwelcoming of landscapes.
It includes the notes from his diary as he slowly built the garden from 1985 to 1994 - which includes fence posts from WW2 (when it was thought the Germans would land at Dungeness and the area was mined and wrapped in barbed wire) and all manner of stuff the sea washed up - his poetry, the strangely haunting The Sunne Rising by John Donne, which was installed on the side of Prospect Cottage (you can see it on the first photo below), references to his many friends who died from Aids-related illnesses, and the most wonderful descriptions of the flowers that grew, and grow, in shingle and salt water. It's the book I look through when I'm wondering what to do next.
Sean Penn will be at The Philadelphia Free Library at 12 noon on March 29 to talk about his novel Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff. We grabbed two tickets today.
Not everyone has Virginia Woolf's command of the perfect sentence, but it's his commitment to a vision of human equality that makes me feel that I should do more each day.
Colin Dexter wrote the Inspector Morse novels which were made into the TV series of 33 episodes between 1987 and 2000 - it was required viewing in Britain on a Sunday evening in the late '80s when the country was under Thatcher's jackboot. Until last Thursday I had not read one of the novels. Last Bus to Woodstock is the first in the series and my comment is that it reads like a third novel rather than a first; it's accomplished from the first sentence. This is rare in crime writers; most take a book or two to establish their detective, the landscape they hunt in, the personality traits that identify them - but Morse appears fully formed in chapter one as an irritable, real ale drinking, love lost, middle aged man with a fondness for The Times crossword and Wagner. If you can work out who the killer is before the last chapter, come to the library, let me know, and pick up a really nice tote bag.
We have had two days of wonderful donations of kids books - yesterday Angella Meanix dropped by with a bunch of goodies and today Sasha Pillai did the same.
Very excitingly Angella has volunteered to run the library on Fridays - we are so lucky! Angella is an illustrative and fine artist - look here angellameanix.co for her gorgeous gallery. This - She Was The Sun - is just one of a remarkable series of works that examine and interpret birds and specifically the phenomenon of beaks.
This photographic journal arrived at the library yesterday - a super addition to the section on local history as it's by our good friend Dev.
Before I opened this book I would have unthinkingly considered myself a fair observer of my surroundings and yet I was shown landscapes, buildings and events that stopped me - Chester County is beautiful and Dev has captured a unique part of its heart.
We couldn't leave The New Yorker off the table - it too will be available at the library.
As will Hobnobs. The homemade oatmeal or sandwich cookie is a munch of joy but milk chocolate Hobnobs are cookies with a purpose - to keep a good old fashioned library happy around 3pm on a rainy afternoon.
The London Review of Books will be available at the library.
It's worth looking at on an early March morning with a cup of strong Yorkshire tea at your elbow and an oatmeal cookie crumbling in your fingers. A proper cup of Yorkshire tea means seeping the leaves for as long as it takes to walk from Cochranville to Baltimore - approximately - and then adding milk and sugar. It should strengthen the spirit and give a kick to the morning - perfect for a fresh run at Steinbeck or Dickens.
The Little Free Library Blog - by James Smith