We want to paint our bedroom, but before we can do so, we have to be able to move the bookshelves away from the wall. And before we can move the bookshelves, we have to remove the books. Which is how we discovered that we owned two copies of Wicked Italian (what can we say: great minds?) and a Web standards guide dating back to 1997.
As we stacked these titles into a cardboard box along with a few other remnants from our erudite twenties, we experienced absolutely none of the pain that avid readers usually report after parting with their books. In fact, we felt elated at the prospect of some empty space on those heavy heavy shelves. Also, that box was pegged for donation, and making the donation was as easy as marching the box down the street to our branch library, where they instructed us to leave it by their donations barrel and handed us a receipt. The whole thing took ten minutes.
Now, before you get all righteous on us about how the SF Public Library hardly needs our two copies of Wicked Italian, we will point out that the books in that barrel are not necessarily bound for the shelves of the library. Many of them are channeled instead to the Friends of the SFPL, a non-profit that sells them on eBay, at special sales, at Book Bay Fort Mason, and out of a small storefront at the Main Library downtown, and then turns the profit over to the Library.
So we all benefit: a fellow San Franciscan en route to Italy this summer can, for mere pennies, arm herself with a few helpful phrases ("Neanche se fosse l'ultimo uomo sulla terra"), the Library gets a cash donation, and we get access to our bedroom wall.
Image: ,a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vasta/110096072/">vasta