Books and Letters

I started using Book Mooch again two weeks ago. It’s a book swapping site that allows you to get rid of books you don’t want, and earn points to “mooch” books you do want. It’s a free service, other than postage, and overall is a friendly community. I joined in 2007 and took a hiatus in 2015.  Over that time, I have sent 206 books and “mooched” 211.

Some of you might think you could never part with your books. I thought the same thing once. Other than falling in love with my Kindle several years ago, I’m not sure what changed my mind. I still like reading physical paper books and will always have a bookshelf in my house full of them, but I also enjoy sharing books so it’s very easy for me to part with them these days.  I still have books that I have had an emotional connection with and that I might read again some day. They are indeed like old friends that I enjoy having in my life.

Just this last week one of my books was mooched by a man named Richard who lives in an assisted living center in New York. I accepted his request and said a friendly hello and offered other books in the same genre to him if he was interested.  He replied with a polite thank you and told me that when he moved into the center there was only a small book case of books. He couldn’t bare to part with his 1100 books so he brought them with him and is creating a library for the 140 residents at the center.

I offered to send him more books from my shelf to help out. Richard thought that was nice and he offered to give me my point back for the book he had mooched from me. Each book you send on Book Mooch earns you a point that can then in turn be spent on mooching a book from someone else. So Richard spent a point to get the one book from me. That wasn’t necessary; I told Richard that I would be happy to send him an array of books and he could keep his point.

I was happy to do it and happy to get rid of more books and know they were going to a good cause.  Heck, I’d even give him some more of my mooch points for his cause because I didn’t need more books!  The site allows you to give “smooches” to charities and other organizations which is giving your points to them so they can mooch books.  I currently have 13 points, all earned just in the last two weeks from sending books out. So that’s 13 books that can be mooched.  Instead of having to list more books on the site to have to mail out when they get mooched, I picked about a dozen books from my shelf and sent them all to Richard.

Richard told me he is also starting a book club at the center and they want Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to be their first read! Richard and I both found that humorous. He asked if I had any copies of it, but I didn’t.  But I asked how many he needed because maybe I could help out with that too.  He thought six would do so a quick click on Amazon today and I had six copies sent to him.

I like doing nice things for people and I was happy to do it for a fellow book lover.  And now I have a new friend in New York who is also doing nice things for good people.  It reminded me of my pen pal, Ward, and the many books he sent to me in the mail over the years.

Today I received a letter in the mail from Ward’s friend who had contacted me to let me know of his passing. I had written to her just a few days after we spoke, thanking her for taking the time to find me. I also asked her if she could send me something from Ward’s house to remember him by, or possibly send me all of my letters or Ward’s journal. Ward told me once that he had written in a journal every day since he was a young boy.  I would love to have any of these things with her church’s blessing.  (Ward left his house and all of his belongings to his church.)

She shared in her letter that they had a lovely memorial service for him and planned to sprinkle some of his and his sister’s ashes in a cemetery in Memphis. The rest of his ashes will be interred in the columbarium in his church. She said she’d be happy to send me everything I had asked for and has chosen a small jade dragon from his house that she thought I would like.  They have not found his journals yet though. I suspect they won’t and that Ward might have destroyed all of them before he fell ill. I plan to write her a check to at least cover the postage and her troubles. She can donate it to their church if she chooses.

These occasions this week of books and letters reminds me once again how important our lives can be and how precious the time we spend here on earth with others. We all have such great opportunities to be kind to one another, but few of us do it. We are overcome by the stresses of our own individual lives, or we are selfish in our ways. And I may even appear that way to some. But those people don’t know me; they don’t really know me at all.  And that’s okay because I don’t do kind acts for those people. I don’t do them for any reason really.  I do it because it makes me happy. If kindness is an addiction, then label me an addict.

So be kind to one another. It’s a great day to be alive.


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