Two years ago, I read "La sombra del viento," a Spanish novel about a boy whose dad owns what he calls the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. It's a place where books from closed stores or libraries come to rest until they find someone who loves them to adopt them and promise to keep them together.
The feeling I got reading about the Cemetery of Forgotten Books is the same one I got when I was strolling down the streets of Bologna and saw a small store called Libri Liberi—"free books." The store was closed, but the sign said that they didn't sell or buy books. Here, books passed from the hands of those who have read them to the hands of those who would like to read them. I could tell that, like the dad in the book, the owner of this place only really cares about books and the people who love them
The next day I came back and took two books in Italian and one in English. I offered Anna, the owner, two books in exchange, which she greatly appreciated. As enjoyable as the book trade was, I also appreciated the chance to talk to her and her American husband and pet their dog. This place isn't a store—it's an experience of browsing and conversing, of bonding over the love of books.
As an idealist, I rejoice at the existence of places like these, where people and books are friends, and where they both matter more than money.