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The Most Desirable Book

Jonquility, a column of trivial musings.

Financier and philanthropist J.P. Morgan, a man well acquainted with sumptuous pleasures ordinarily reserved for Roman Caesars, famously remarked that if you must ask the cost of a yacht such as his, then you are clearly not able to afford it.

He also had a pretty snappy library at his residence in Hartford, Connecticut, a visitor at which, maybe even the same man budgeting for a yacht, challenged Morgan whether he had read all the thousands of books neatly arranged, less perhaps by the Dewey Decimal System than by aesthetic sensibilities. 'Of course not,' Morgan is said to have responded. 'Would you rather have a collection of books you've already read, or books of adventure and discovery you have yet to enjoy?'

In our own hamlet here in Georgia, one need not be either a financier or a philanthropist to luxuriate in J.P. Morgan's undiscovered adventures, or even have a library card for that matter, and for substantially less than the cost of a yacht. Because these unread books house themselves in little blue boxes on pedestals all over town, no mansion need apply either. Though they are free for the taking, a trade with an already-read book would be good manners, returning the hoe sharper than when you borrowed it, as my mother would say.

Organized and curated by the non-profit Little Free Library (, I have visited a random handful of these boxes with the question that the alleged J.P. Morgan visitor may not have had the temerity to ask:

"Is it possible to divine the differences in taste and daily lives between our neighborhoods by assessing the titles of these books and the frequency of trades?"

Of course, the answer is no. But have some fun with trying anyway, perhaps beginning with visits to those in the photographs. Consider ending your tour with the munchkin-sized library box on ground level at the entrance of The Bunny Hive in Smyrna Market Village. Have a bite and an iced coffee at Café Lucia next door while you crack open your Most Desirable Book.

Check out this link to locate library boxes near you:

"Would you rather have a collection of books you've already read, or books of adventure and discovery you have yet to enjoy?"