Bring your community together with a book.

Ever since I was a little girl, I loved to escape through books. I have read thousands of books, as an adult I read several books at a time. My home has books stacked in every room, some for inspiration and some for the pure pleasure of escaping to a place, time or experience.

Remember the Scholastic book clubs through school. I would carefully take the sheet home and my grandparents always had money for at least one book. Money was tight in those days, so it was a special purchase. As a teenager, I spent countless hours everyday in our local library losing myself in the endless books. It was a safe place for me to escape the craziness of my home. I still love the smell of a library or bookstore, I find it comforting and safe.

As an adult, I read to learn, to be inspired and sometimes just to imagine. Reading is one of my greatest rewards. But because I have read before bed for so many years, reading is a natural sleep agent, no matter what time of the day or night. I read, I get tired.

My children never went to bed without a story, and I still have their books stored in our garage for the grandchildren to come.

On a recent trip to Victoria, I spent an entire afternoon searching for a Free Library Box in the James Bay Area of town. I knew it was on a funny little street, but google couldn’t help me, so I went up and down and around until I found it. An adorable library box sitting in front of a quaint home, with chimes tingling from the tree beside it. What a gift.

Then on a long bike ride the next day, I was out in the middle of nowhere, and there was a Free Library nailed to a fence. No house in sight, but a generous soul took the time to grace us with a free library. The general idea of a Free Library is to read a book, share a book, exchange an book and then repeat. No charge, and the faith of the Library Stewart (me) that people will not damage or take advantage of the open invitation to the Library.

It took me some time, but I finally tracked down an old magazine box from a local magazine and newspaper distributor in town. They were kind enough to deliver it to my home and I was chomping at the bit to get it painted. My husband looked through all the cupboards in the garage and found a primer to cover all the advertising of the previous product. I planned for a day to paint and then with the help of my 31 year old daughter, we went back in time and spent an afternoon painting and playing. We chatted, laughed and even splashed some sparkles on the box. Everything is better with sparkles, don’t your agree? We laughed about the sparkles, as my house was the craft house, where the girls came and make a mess. And yes sparkles were found for months after. Such fun memories.

This year for me has been a re-discovery of many things. One being my love of reading, another my love of being creative. So to be able to bring those elements together and share it with someone who also loves those two things, made it a very special day. One that others can benefit from as well. Plus, a shout out for books has my friends donating to share with my neighbors.

For ideas on how to make your own Free Library, I went to
You can buy boxes and register, but they also have lots of resources to help you.

Dianna Bowes is the creative director of Fabulous@50 and editor of Be Fabulous! Dianna is also the author of The Fabulous@50 Re-Experience – Refresh your mind, body and spirit. And also a member of The Painted Door on Main Artist Guild.


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