February 18, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra
Reading is great. I’m still sorry that it took me so long to realize that, but frankly, I blame grade school for trying to force me to do it. Reading is something that ought to be pursued on one’s own terms, without restrictions or assignment or the pressure of a grade. After having seen how wonderful books can be (when they’re not crammed down your throat), I’ve been on sort of a book-collecting spree – amassing a long “To Read” list that will take me years to work through, given the shamefully slow rate I’m progressing at so far. To satisfy my cravings, I’ve of course turned to my favorite secondhand bookshop in town, and to Amazon, and only rarely to my local library. It seems illogical, really, because libraries essentially make reading free, but there’s also this looming time limit imposed on each book that turns me off. I’d rather spend a few cents, own the thing and be able to read it at my own pace without having to worry about incurring the fees and the shame of late or un-returned library books.
Apparently, however, there exists a marvelous little solution in a quiet Brooklyn neighborhood. Around the Cobble Hills Park in Brooklyn, New York, locals have been quietly and anonymously sharing books with one another; leaving them in the park, on doorsteps, stoops and benches, for their neighbors to enjoy on their own terms, then continue the process by replacing the books for others. It’s a marvelous little system that serves as a testament to how cool Brooklyn is.
Today’s project wants to make this indie library a little more robust and a little more weather-proof by installing a public home for these books to be stored before moving between readers’ homes.
The Hundred Story House is a piece of interactive public art. It is a miniature Brooklyn brownstone whose windows open upon shelves of books (about 100 of them) which can be borrowed by the community.
A public, outdoor book repository, modeled after the classic brownstone architecture of the houses in the area, that will serve as a neighborhood bookshelf for locals to take part in in the renegade literary exchange. Construction is planned for Spring of this year and I’m betting residents will be more than pleased to have a shelter for their community book club. I wish I had something like this near me, but who knows, if The Hundred Story House shows promise, maybe we’ll start to see them popping up all over the place. One can hope.
Until then, March 2 is the deadline for this project, and there are plenty of neat, bookish rewards for backers, so you can become part of this story and the hundreds more that it will help to tell.