Living Below Ground – The Maytrees

For my fiction reading I primarily rely on the simplicity of book exchange boxes or what is also known as Little Free Library movement. In Kingston there were several that I would use and when I moved to Toronto I was a bit concerned that there wouldn’t be any in the neighbourhood. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. There is not only one, but two just up the road from where I live (one is geared for adults and the other for children).


Book exchanges are a great local and community orientated way of sharing books. The idea is that you bring unwanted books to exchange for others. These individual boxes are placed on peoples front yards and each one I have encountered and used has been as individual as the owners who placed them there. Today’s “Living Below Ground” comes from one of the books I got at a book exchange box in Kingston and brought with me to Toronto.  The basement is a minor detail in the narrative but the way Annie Dillard describes it makes me want a basement just like the one described – open to the sea. Here’s an excerpt:

“When he first moved in after their wedding, Maytree got to work enlarging the beachside crawl space. Now they had a wedge-shaped basement furnished with a galley and head. He finished it off by installing many-paned French doors right on the beach. When storms came, he removed both doors so the seas could pour in without breaking glass. In ordinary weather, friends entered the front door, went downstairs, and opened the French doors to the beach.”

Annie Dillard, The Maytrees (New York: Harper Perennial, 2007), 47-48.

The joy of a book exchange place is that your choices are limited to what is available, thereby taking the stress out of choosing your next book. And, if that wasn’t enough,  you are sharing the books you have read with others.


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