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Adventures at the Book Thing of Baltimore

This post is part 2 of our Wednesday Adventure Series. Each week we will highlight something different in the Washington, D.C., Metro Area, many of which will be options for part of your own BookCrossing Journey. With so many things to see and do, how will you choose?

The Book Thing Have you ever dreamed of visiting a building full of absolutely free books just sitting there for the taking? That dream can become a reality when you visit the Book Thing of Baltimore, Inc. The mission of this nonprofit is to put unwanted books into the hands of those who want them. It’s basically a place where people donate books of various conditions (some are brand new, some are well-loved) and you’re welcome to help yourself to as many books as you like for free, though there is a daily limit of 150,000 per person. What’s the catch? There isn’t one! And the suggested donation is a smile. More information about the Book Thing can be found on their website.

The place is divided by section (fiction, nonfiction, travel, history, biographies, children’s, romance, science fiction, mystery, science, animals, gay and lesbian literature, textbooks, philosophy, magazines, etc.) but apart from that, there’s no ordering system. One of our favorite sections is “Recommended by Russell,” a double-sided set of bookcases that contain owner Russell Wattenberg’s personal favorite, recommended books. The inventory of the Book Thing is based entirely on donations so it varies from day to day. Therefore, it’s tough to visit the Book Thing with a specific book in mind. However, it’s a great place to visit if you love being around books and browsing. Sometimes you stumble upon just the book you’re looking for; other times, you get great ideas for themed releases or gifts. Every book is stamped on the first page to let people know it’s a free book and cannot be resold.

The Book Thing opened its doors in 1999 as a way for people to get rid of books they no longer have use for and pass them on to new readers. Before it was a building, it was a box of books people could look through in the back of Russell’s car. Soon, people were giving him books for that “book thing…” he did, and the name stuck. Now he accepts donations from individuals, businesses, organizations, and libraries.

The Book Thing The Book Thing The Book Thing The Book Thing The Book Thing

The Book Thing is open only on Saturdays and Sundays, but you’re in luck: we’re organizing a trip to it on the Sunday during our convention. Just sign up for this in the Add-Ons form to reserve your spot. The Book Thing can be impressive but it’s also small, so we might be limiting attendance and staggering our groups. We might even stop by several sites related to Edgar Allan Poe while we’re in Baltimore. Hundreds of free books are waiting for you; sign up today!

Poe House The Book Thing Poe Memorial

2 Responses to “Adventures at the Book Thing of Baltimore”

  • meganh:

    ..and I thought I was coming to Washington to release books – I just know I will leave with more than I brought now! What a wonderful place.

  • Minnikin:

    I had a release caught at the Book Thing way back when. Definitely worth a visit!

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