The Little Free Library Inaugurated at Saint-Antonin

Terracotta rooftops of Saint-Antonin by the Aveyron
Terracotta rooftops of Saint-Antonin by the Aveyron

So many words have poured out in the past few days, and no doubt will continue to do so, about the horrific events in Paris this week. I can’t add anything to them that isn’t trite or obvious. So let’s move on and look at something positive. This post is about a small event but a great initiative.

This is a case where I wasn’t sure whether to publish this post here or on my writing blog. But since it’s about a local project, I think it belongs here.

I hadn’t heard about street libraries, where people donate books and they are made available in a public place for people to borrow. The idea is that you take a book to read and return either the same book or a different one, or several. The idea originated in the States, I believe, and has caught on in a big way elsewhere.

Mode d'emploi en anglais et français
Mode d’emploi en anglais et français

A Dutch lady, whose name I won’t try to write, in the local town of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, thought it would be a good idea to set up a street library there. The idea appealed to people and the Little Free Library was born.

Hand-made cabinet housing the Little Free Library
Hand-made cabinet housing the Little Free Library

A Dutch craftsman made a handsome cabinet to keep the books in and it was inaugurated today. It occupies pride of place on a wall in the main street. Writers Abroad friend Doreen asked if I would go and kick things off by putting a copy of my novel into it, as a “local author”.

The first time I’ve ever been asked to open anything officially! It could well be the last. Having had my hair cut this morning, I looked like a chicken. Not quite the style I wanted to achieve. Never mind; this event wasn’t about me.

Donating my novel
Donating my novel

About 20 people turned up: British, French and Dutch. They donated books they didn’t need any more in those languages, and in Occitan, the local dialect. There’s still room for more, but it was a start.

I made sure my book was placed next to Donna Tartt’s best-seller, The Goldfinch. That is about as near as it’s likely to get to bestseller-dom. But maybe something will rub off.

Rubbing shoulders with fame
Rubbing shoulders with fame

There were no speeches and no fireworks. Just a quiet celebration of the joys of books and reading and, most of all, of harmony between people of different nationalities. We could do with a bit more of that these days.

You might also like:

Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val: Haunting and Historic Town
Hollywood Comes to Southwest France
Trip Along the River Aveyron

Copyright © 2015 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved


  1. These are catching on in Alsace! The library in a neighboring village set up a big one under a shady tree a couple of years ago. And this morning I saw a brand new one installed between the church and the school in my little village of 7,000! I found your blog searching for the French name for these to label my Instagram post more accurately in French… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are more and more of these little libraries around the place. I think it’s an excellent idea – as long as they don’t get vandalised or misused. Thanks for the follow, by the way. 🙂


    • It’s a lovely idea, isn’t it? And a good antidote to all the dreadful things happening in the world. Thanks for following the blog, Chris. 🙂


  2. What a lovely idea, and a refreshing proof of sanity, calm and goodwill. I want those Roald Dahl books, and wish I was there to do a swop!


  3. Lovely inspiring story! Well done. I tried book crossing once but never heard what happened to my donated book. Think this local system is nicer.


    • It seems a great way to make books more accessible to people. The only worry is vandalism, which does occur down here but nothing like as much as in larger towns and cities. I think the custom-made cabinet is lovely, reflecting as it does the medieval architecture of the town.


I'd love to know your thoughts. Please leave a comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.