Free Books!

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

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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  1. bisimodupe1975 says

    Wao a beautiful view for a book store…makes me to want to keep reading! Thanks for sharing.

  2. pjmorse says

    A Little Free Library, then? There’s one of those on one of my regular running routes, and I first noticed them in Eugene of all places; in fact, last time I was there I visited one put up by some friends of mine to pick up the Geocache they’d hidden there. (Geeky hobbies collide.) I’ve been toying with the idea of building one to put up by our house as a family project.

    1. Bob R says

      Excellent, thanks for the link. You should put one up by your house. I came across a friend of a friend who builds and distributes poetry boxes. Similar concept.

  3. ladieswholunchreviews says

    I’ve seen them here, too. Lovely way to recycle books

  4. paula graham says

    Reading: the spice of life…sharing books ..a good deed, your ticket to heaven. xx

    1. Bob R says

      Ha! I don’t think it’ll be quite that easy Paula. 🙂

  5. […] Free Books! – Bob Ramask, Piran Cafe […]

  6. Brad Nixon says

    Bob, this post of yours coincided nicely with National Library Week in the States, and gave me an opportunity to share your blog with my readers at
    Good luck with the little library.

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks so much, Brad, really appreciate that. Cheers!

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