What is this “Book Thing” People Keep Talking About?

by Ashley Elsberry

The Book Thing is a nonprofit that gives away tons of free books every weekend and accepts donated books everyday.

Caption: A man backs up his car to the garage door at The Book Thing to donate several boxes of books. The reddish-brown bins are for dropping off books when the building is closed.

A man backs up his car to the garage door at The Book Thing to donate several boxes of books. The reddish-brown bins are for dropping off books when the building is closed.

I was curious when my friends talked about going to some book thing and asked what it was, thinking it must be some book fair or event or something. Then I was slightly frustrated when their explanation comprised of just repeating,”no, it’s THE Book Thing!” They could have given an actually helpful explanation, like saying that it’s a building where you can get free books and donate your own old books.

Located on Vineyard Lane, and with a small parking lot out front, the pink and blue cinderblock exterior walls make it hard to miss. There’s a sign up on the wall, declaring the building ‘The Book Thing’- it took actually seeing this sign for me to finally understand my friends’ explanation – the book thing was actually the name of the place. Great with words and explanations, my friends…

The first room after entering The Book Thing. The bins are full of children's books, and the giant mass of yellow off to the left is National Geographic magazines. A door off to the right leads to the next room full of books.The first room after entering The Book Thing. The bins are full of children's books, and the giant mass of yellow off to the left is National Geographic magazines. A door off to the right leads to the next room full of books.

The first room after entering The Book Thing. The bins are full of children’s books, and the giant mass of yellow off to the left is National Geographic magazines. A door off to the right leads to the next room full of books.

Stepping through the door helpfully marked ‘Entrance’ bring you into a fairly large room filled with shelves, bins, books, and people. And there are fans running, placed sporadically throughout the several rooms of the building. Why the fans? Because it’s as hot in there as ghost peppers roasted in the flames of Hades itself. But the building runs on donations and volunteers, so you can’t really expect the building itself to be super awesome. Parts of the ceiling and walls are uncovered insulation for one. But there is light, and you’re not really there to admire great architecture and interior design. No, what you came for is the free books.

The Biography section at the Book Thing. The ceiling is just insulation, but who cares when there's free books involved?

The Biography section at the Book Thing. The ceiling is just insulation, but who cares when there’s free books involved?

Lining almost every wall and set into aisles in each room are the shelves full of books. They’re loosely organized by genre, but that’s it. If you’re searching for a specific author, that’s what you’ll be doing – searching. And you might find something else interesting that you weren’t originally looking for. Plus, the selection is HUGE (Math, biology, fiction, biography, history, medical, and on and on…) so that makes up for any and all imperfections. That, and the fact that you can take as many books as you want FOR FREE. All this magical place asks in return is that you write down your name and the number of books you took on the papers by the door. This helps them keep tabs on the numbers of books that go through their doors. An article by The Baltimore Sun says 20,000 books can come in and be taken out every weekend!

So, long story short – go to The Book Thing at 3001 Vineyard Lane on a Saturday or Sunday between 9am and 6pm. Bring any books you’re done with, and pick up some more – for FREE.

Part of one of the shelves at The Book Thing, holding a few of the thousands of free books housed here.

Part of one of the shelves at The Book Thing, holding a few of the thousands of free books housed here.

Advertisements

3 comments

  1. I would have never known about this organization if you hadn’t written this post, Ashley! There are so many wonderful events occurring in the Baltimore area that are never mentioned, and this is one of them. However, after reading this post, I am very interested in checking out “The Book Thing.” Thank you for sharing your experience!

  2. I can’t believe I have lived less than six blocks from a free source of books for almost three years now and never knew. It is indeed quite the hidden gem.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: