Many Baltimoreans already know about the Book Thing, but perhaps this is news to some readers. The Book Thing is a place you can go to get free books! Like a used book store, except the used books are free. Like a library, but you get to keep the books as long as you like. Or pass them on to others (for free).
It is an amazing place, here in “The City That Reads“. I go there less than I would like, just a few times each year. But I always walk away with several bags full of books. And I try to return the favor, bringing some books with me to donate every time I go, though I usually take more than I leave.
I often stop in the math section, where I’ve picked up a few old textbooks over the years (popular math books are not often to be found). Science and engineering too are right nearby. I look through the plays, which I usually enjoy reading more than novels. Then the humor section; then those books recommended by Russell, the proprietor. And finally mysteries, which are my favorite comfort books.
My parents, who are also voracious readers, always make it a point to go with me to the Book Thing when they are visiting. We joke, when they tell me about finding a book at a yard sale for 25 cents, about how expensive that is. In fact, it is infinitely many times more expensive than a book at the Book Thing!
I wonder if any other cities have followed in Baltimore’s footsteps with a similar free book ‘store’? It’s such a great idea that I would hope it would spread like wildfire. But perhaps it remains only a local tradition, albeit one that puts the charm in Charm City.