So I’m driving down San Pablo in El Cerrito yesterday with just twenty minutes to spare before the Big Game, and there’s a sign on the sidewalk that says "FREE BOOKS."

For me, this is like being submerged and seeing a sign that says "Free Air."

I make a u-turn, park, and walk into this storefront that is apparently a free book exchange. This is literary Shagri-La, but I’ve got to case the place before tip-off.

And damned if there aren’t some cool old books in there. I start to gather a little stack. As it grows I wonder if I’m being greedy, so I take a closer look at the flyers posted on the wall: "Limit is 100 per person, per day." Wow. So I’m cool with my 10. By the time I left it was 16. Watching the game with friends, I gave some away. The Portable Aquinas to Snider. Marcus Borg to William & Danielle, plus a funny early-80s book on NFL Running Backs that I got for Will as a gag.

Here’s quote from one of the books: The Revolution of Hope, by Erich Fromm:


"This book is written as a response to America’s situation in the year 1968. It is born out of the conviction that we are at the crossroads: one road leads to a completely mechanized society with man as a helpless cog in the machine–if not to destruction by thermonuclear war; the other to a renaissance of humanism and hope–to a society that puts technique in the service of man’s well-being."

–Erich Fromm, The Revolution of Hope: Toward a Humanized Technology (1968)