El Ateneo bookstore, Buenos Aires, 23-Jan-2013
El Ateneo bookstore, Buenos Aires, 23-Jan-2013

Free Books!

I was talking with a friend last night about one of my favorite bookstores on the planet, El Ateneo in Buenos Aires, a marvel of redesign that truly was on my List of Places to Visit Before I Die.

Dating back to 1919, it was originally a theatre, then a performance venue, later converted into a cinema and finally, in its current life, a commercial space that’s made it onto dozens, if not hundreds, of “Coolest Bookstores on the Planet” lists.

Its feel is obviously theatrical and elegant — if you haven’t seen it, check out this post I published from the Argentine capital three years ago which includes 16 photos taken inside the cavernous shop.

As far as I know there aren’t any free books there, but it’s as good a segue as any I’ll come up with today to introduce a new project I hatched yesterday, one involving a regular restocking of a Free Library on Ljubljana’s castle hill.

The concept, if you even want to call it that, is simple: regularly leaving books in one or more of the three “Free Library” boxes that are perched like bird houses on the castle grounds, and hope that those who borrow them get in touch. That’s it.

It’s day two and I have yet to hear from anyone, but six of the eight books I unloaded yesterday were gone early this afternoon. I didn’t think that the 1980s Christian Left testimonies on the Nicaraguan revolution would be quick movers. I was right. I hope the others are being read.

If you’re as curious as I am to see where the books wind up, you can follow the project on this page, cleverly entitled Castle Hill Free Library Journal.

Castle Hill Free Library Journal 1-1


For the record, today’s Pic du Jour, the site’s 830th straight, was snapped in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 23 January 2013.




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