Free Book Day continues to bring book lovers together in a unique way

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Books showcased during the first Free Book Days in Hopewell Valley. PHOTO COURTESY ANNA SALVATORE
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Books at the end of a drive way in Pennington for the first edition of Free Book Day. PHOTO COURTESY ANNA SALVATORE
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Books showcased during the first Free Book Days in Hopewell Valley. PHOTO COURTESY ANNA SALVATORE
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Books at the end of a drive way in Pennington for the first edition of Free Book Day. PHOTO COURTESY ANNA SALVATORE

Free Book Day has made its way to Princeton and Lawrence Township after launching throughout Hopewell Valley in August.

This next edition of Free Book Day takes place across homes in Princeton and Lawrence on Sept. 12. The event, created by Anna Salvatore, a recent graduate of Hopewell Valley Central High, allows for residents to get rid of unwanted books while bringing together book lovers and enthusiasts throughout Mercer County.

Outside of homes from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., books are placed on lawns or at the end of driveways or curbs for people to look through and collect free books that are of interest to them during the event.

“Ideally, people will take away as many books as they can fit in their car and hands. People will come away with a greater appreciation for their neighbor’s interest and interesting subsections of their community, and bring them into conversations with people that they have not seen in a while,” she said. “I hope Free Book Day will be an excuse for the community to get together and for book nerds like me to find fascinating reasons to.”

The idea for Free Book Days originated from the actions of a neighbor moving away and Salvatore being unable to participate in the annual Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale, due to the coronavirus pandemic which cut the event short in March. The book sale is a local event in Princeton featuring thousands of donated books usually sorted and available for purchase by interested readers.

“Free Book Day began in Pennington where I live and originated shortly after the Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale was cancelled. One of our neighbors who was moving away put books outside of his house,” Salvatore said. “I thought it would be incredible if everyone around town also put their unwanted books out on the same day and came together to look for new books that they may have never encountered.”

After the first Free Book Days launched in Pennington and Hopewell, Salvatore decided Princeton and Lawrence would be the next municipal locations because she considered the area as a great center for intellectual life.

“I thought there are so many intellectual and academic people here that would take advantage of a Free Book Day, who would have many unwanted books to give away and a desire to get new books too,” she said. “Just in Pennington when Free Book Day happened earlier in August we would see families walking by with backpacks, little children rummaging for books in piles on the curb. I hope the same occurs for Free Book Day in Princeton and Lawrence.”

Salvatore, also a soon-to-be Princeton University undergraduate of the Class of 2025, hopes Free Book Days become an annual tradition after its first year of organized events in 2020.

“It is not like after Sept. 12 people will have given away all of their books they do not want. People will continue to accumulate books and buy and look for new and exciting reads. I think this event will on grow bigger as people become more aware of it,” she said. “This year might not be the biggest event in its history, but I hope so. To see this, grow in future years would be fantastic and heartwarming.”

For Free Book Day in Princeton and Lawrence, people looking to participate can utilize QR codes on posters or Free Book Day’s page on Instagram to reach a Google document with a lists of locations where people have unwanted books. Signing up is not required but helps people participating know where they can find books.

“This event is great way to bring the community together during a pandemic that otherwise isolates us in our own homes,” Salvatore said. “While still following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wearing masks and social distancing, you can help people take books off their hands that you are interested in or that you may have never know existed.”

There are no requirements for the quality of books residents can put out for Free Book Day.

“Any quality of books and type of book are welcome on Free Book Day. You can put out how-to manuals, books about gardening or books about the Russian Revolution,” she said.

For more information about Free Book Day-Princeton, contact Anna Salvatore at anna@annasalvatore.com.