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What Would Jane Read? Episode 9: LFL #10924 in Alexandria, VA



What Would Jane Read?

This week's edition of WWJR recounts a short trip I took with Action Figure Jane Austen and my rather reluctant 12-year-old son to a Little Free Library right here in the neighborhood.

Little Free Library #10924 is on Argyle Drive in the Beverley Hills section of Alexandria, which is adjacent to my own neighborhood of Del Ray. The first thing you notice about this Little Free Library (besides the lovely landscaping around it in this green, well-maintained neighborhood) is an awesome, apparently kid-created painting on the side of the book house, with cheery flowers, a rainbow, a sun, a butterfly, and a big red heart. Jane had a little smile on her face as soon as she saw it.

(OK, in all honesty, Action Figure Jane is made of plastic and always has a little smile on her face. But at this Little Free Library, I could tell she really meant it.)
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On display in this book house was  a note, written on the back of what appeared to be a German postcard, from a Little Free Library patron. It begins, "Dear Bird Haus Library, Thank you for Schindler and The Alchemist..." and goes on to promise to bring someone else by "to visit your little shrine to thoughtful generosity." Jane was so impressed by this note that she insisted on having her photo taken with it. My son, on the other hand, is not in any of the pictures because he refused to get out of the car. But at least he was reading a book in there (even if it was a Minecraft book).

Jane also liked the snowflake-shaped lights in this Little Free Libary. In fact, Jane is loving the newfangled electric lights of our century, and wonders how many more novels she could have written if she hadn't had to do it by candlelight.

Jane's Book Selection
As for what Jane Austen would like to read from the collection here, it was a tough choice. She was intrigued by several children's books about animals here: Charlotte's Web and The Trumpet of the Swan, both by E.B. White, and the Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo. And Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (and its sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire) totally freaked her out.

In the end she decided to read The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart. She liked the idea of an elite group of students -- both boys and girls -- chosen only for their intelligence and special talents, who are recruited for a secret society that solves mysteries. In her day, she says, if there were mysteries to be solved by a secret society, it would no doubt have been only boys who were allowed to take part, while the girls sat home and stitched samplers. And she was relieved to hear there were no graphic scenes of outrageous sex and violence, as in the Dragon Tattoo books. She likes reading books that introduce her to a different sensibility in literature, but maybe not quite that different.

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P1240376 front view, cropped 40%

P1240367 Sign, cropped 40%

Jane and I have been busy. We have visited many other Little Free Libraries in recent months, and we plan to run these reports on them roughly once a week. So stay tuned, probably next weekend, for another edition of "What Would Jane Read?"