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Just. One. Book.

19 June 2016

From Throwing Chanclas:

I live in a town of 1200 people in the Northern Sierra Nevada –where it meets the Cascade Range near Mt. Lassen National Park and about two hours drive northwest of Reno, NV.  Two hundred of that population is students. Over the years as the population dwindled after mines closed, then mills–nothing except tourism and retirement have emerged as ‘industries.’ Many businesses have closed down and with it many things we take for granted—like libraries.

The local junior/senior high school has not been able to purchase new books since the 90s. Some of the “check outs” for old books are in the 1980s. There are no books by people of color in the library. Hardly any books by women are in the few book cases except your standard Austen and Lee. It’s an uninviting place. There hasn’t been a librarian for nearly a decade. And volunteers weren’t allowed. The last eight years students couldn’t even check out books.

. . . .

Greenville Junior/Senior High School and Indian Valley Academy, which share the library space have new leadership which are welcoming the idea of revamping the library. Both principals want to see the area’s students supported and reading. Like most of rural America we have no budget for such things as books, film, music , and other media and arts.

I’ve lived here 13 years. I’ve watched kids succumb to despair. Our suicide and alcohol abuse is rampant as it is in many small rural communities. 75% of our county is beautiful national forest. 44% of jobs are government jobs—mostly forest service. There used to be mills but they closed down in the 90s. So much of that other 56% is underemployed and unemployed. It’s a beautiful place to live but it’s also a scary place for the mind to atrophy. We have a median income of under 30K. At the local elementary school 2/3 of students qualify for free lunch. Getting the picture?

. . . .

We need racially diverse books. We need graphic novels. We need women’s studies. We need science. We need series. We need film. We need comics. We need music. We need biographies of important people. Looking for Young Adult. Classics. We want zines! Contemporary. Poetry. Everything that would make a difference in a young person’s life. Writers send us YOUR BOOK. We have many non-readers who we’d love to turn on to reading. We need a way to take this tiny area and bring it into the 21st century. We have a whole bunch of kids who don’t like to read because all they’ve ever been given is things that are either dull , dated, or dumbed down.

The students who are excelling are doing so because they have supportive parents at home and access to books and tablets elsewhere. But most students are without.

So here’s what I’m asking. Will you donate a book? A real book. Something literary or fun—something that speaks to your truth, their truths. Something that teaches them something about the world. Makes them feel less alone?

I’m not asking for money. I’m asking for you to send a new book or film or cd to us to help us build a library we can be proud of. Just one book.

. . . .

So who is with us?

Send us one book.

Greenville High School/Indian Valley Academy
Library Project Attn: Margaret Garcia
117 Grand Street
Greenville, CA 95947

Thank you for your support.

If sending during the month of July (when school is closed) please send to

Library Project/Margaret Garcia
PO Box 585
Greenville, CA 95947

Link to the rest at Throwing Chanclas and thanks to Krista for the tip.

Greenville High School has an Amazon Wishlist.

PG sent the school a copy of Fahrenheit 451.

Books in General

48 Comments to “Just. One. Book.”

  1. “PG sent the school a copy of Fahrenheit 451.”

    Too bad they don’t have internet there, the whole world just a website away …

    The ‘we need more books by women of color’ is getting old. I read and note whether I enjoyed the story and the telling, not by how the writer looked or which way the plumbing worked.

    • That’s great for you. For a lot of kids, and adults, knowing that there are books written by people who look like them, who live like them, who feature characters written by people who look like them, is important. It may not be for you, and that’s great. But for people like me, who would have loved to have more than just Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison in high school, who would’ve loved to have it start from elementary school and continue until adulthood, it IS important. You can ignore that requirement. But don’t assume everyone else can.

      • +1

      • Yes, if you are a minority or come from a marginalized group it is important to see yourself reflected in media and the creators of the media.

      • I remember how frustrating it was to read only boys getting to have adventures in my favorite genres.

      • Unless the back cover had a picture of the writer, I seldom if ever knew/know if the book had been written by a male or female — much less what color skin they might have been wearing. Nor did/does it matter to me, I was/am more interested in the story.

        It just seems rather limiting somehow to request/prefer just ‘certain types’ of books. (And I seem to recall more than a little laughter here when a couple publishers were declaring they were going to do books by women only for a year.)

        As for role models, we have one in the white house (and the way Trump is spouting off we may have still another one in there next year …)


        Did anyone notice David Weber’s Honor series had a black queen running things?

      • Jayce – Amen. Totally agree with you.

      • It really is the little things. My book got dedicated to a friend’s kid. My family was a bit surprised (they were first on the Acknowledgements page), but I said, “It’s just a line in a book and it doesn’t really mean anything. But to him, books are still magical. To be in a book like that is more real to him.”

        And sure enough, now he wants to write, too.

        There’s a lot wrong with forcing perspectives into published books artificially, but we can worry about nuance after we get more equal representation. We can’t wait for “perfect.”

  2. The list on the Amazon link is empty.

    Cost of satellite internet, 50 GB/month from Exede: less than $200 for a business account.

    On the one hand, sure, I feel their pain. On the other hand, graduate to the current era of technology, where it’s not just a luxury — it’s a LESS EXPENSIVE way of doing things.

    Even if the (town or school) library can’t afford an Overdrive or other library acquisition service, it can point students at all the FREE books on Amazon, then provide the internet access to allow them to be downloaded to inexpensive ereaders or even cheap (Amazon Fire) tablets. If the kids don’t have debit cards, the parents surely do, or can get them — if you have a bank account, you can have a debit card.

    Only a stubbornly narrow focus on doing things the old way (libraries provide paper books or it doesn’t count) keeps them in this trap. If the library has to morph to an institution that provides internet access and guidance for book acquisition instead of a gatekeeper of physical books, so what?

    Cost of satellite internet (x 1): $200
    Cost of old computers to connect to internet in library: not much.
    Cost of ereader or tablet (per student): $40-100
    Cost of books: free in so many cases.

    If they can’t come up with this, they should shut down.

    And, yeah, the whole diversity thing is not the point. Western Civilization is the point, as the basis for an education.

    • If they have no DSL I’ll bet they have satellite dishes. I have one. What’s wrong with Hughesnet? It’s high speed. They can do Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime. The world is at their fingertips. You can buy a used Kindle for $22. Gutenberg has all the classics and more for free.
      I don’t suppose they want that.

    • While I appreciate your complaint, having a library is a way to build community. I have my own e-reader that I use regularly, but I also visit my library. More importantly, I think seeing that people want to help is a great thing for this small community. I personally don’t know why they cannot have both virtual and physical books. I know both mediums coexist beautifully in my neighborhood library and my home as well. It’s not necessarily an either-or proposition, but I truly understand the community wanting a library with books on its shelves.

    • Actually, I’ll bet that almost all of their students already have phones capable of being used as ereaders. You can get one for twenty bucks nowadays.

      You wouldn’t even really need Internet access. Have someone (or multiple someones) download free stuff when they visit a place that *does* have Internet access, then put them on a school computer for the kids to download.

      • My Sister and her family live in Rural Michigan. (the type of area where having a neighbor within a mile is ‘next door’)

        I got them wifi-only kindles and they were able to use the Internet at the local McDonalds to download books (I later got them an Internet connection at their house)

        Even the most out-of-the-way communities in the US have some form of Internet access available, at least intermittently.

    • Melinda Clayton

      Somewhere in the comments from the original post the author said Kindles were donated to the school, and ebooks would also be appreciated.

      Regarding a lack of resources, having spent many years working in the mental health field in very small (southern, in my case) towns, I can sadly say that $20 is too much for some families. I worked with families that had no indoor plumbing, no electricity, barely a roof and four walls (several families I visited had no floors – one family slept on the dirt with baseball bats so they could hit rats and snakes that came in overnight). Even now my parents live in a rural community that offers one internet provider. It’s horribly slow and glitchy, and they get kicked off after a certain amount of time so others can have access. It’s hard to believe these places still exist, but they do.

      • This.
        When you live in a well-connected, well resourced community, which has collectively has a good financial base and disposable income, it’s easy to make assumptions about how the poor people with problems just aren’t thinking. Or trying hard enough. There’s lots of cheap second-hand tech on your local craigslist, after all, so what’s *their* problem?

        The community that needs these books is impoverished and isolated. Their kids can’t catch a bus to the ‘rich’ part of town where people have spare kindles to sell for $20. Their parents don’t have gas money for an hour-90 min roundtrip to the nearest place that does. And they don’t have $20 either. They’re probably all in constant danger of having their utilities turned off.

        Their problem isn’t that they don’t think. Their problem is other people don’t.

        • Melinda Clayton

          Exactly. ♥

        • Their problem isn’t that they don’t think. Their problem is other people don’t.

          Thank you, and the others who point out that for some, even $20 is unobtainable. It’s sad to see people who just don’t seem to get it that $200 for internet, or $40 for a basic Fire is going to be so far beyond a budget as to exist in fantasy land.

          It’s easy to say, oh well, they just need to budget better. Or a favorite of the elites, to just give up one latte or sell something on eBay. If only it were that easy. When you’re struggling to keep a roof over your head and the kids fed and reasonably clothed, there’s nothing left to budget with.

          And for those who think social services abound, so all these people need to do is get it from the government, think again. Even with aid, the very poor struggle to get by. Forget the welfare queen with her Caddie. It’s a myth.

      • This is so true. A lot of people really just have no idea how it can be in rural America. I’m from Appalachia and in many areas, it’s very much like the description of Greeneville, CA.

        • My mother’s family is from WV (she was born in Big Ugly Holler), and my father’s is from rural TN. There are impoverished places all over this country in which people can’t afford many of the things we take for granted.

          • Absolutely true.

            Sometimes I think about how much has changed for me and my family in just three generations. My grandmother was born one of 13 children to her parents, and the entire family lived in a 2 room cabin. The rest of my elders were similarly impoverished.

            Two generations later, I went to college and own a house where everyone has their own bedroom. I had to leave in order to do that. But once the careers wind down and the city is no longer a necessity, we are moving back. I crave the mountains and my people in a way I simply can’t explain.

            I still go home to visit, and I see all the poverty there. Too many people still live a bare subsistence life in many places. Most of our population lives in and around cities and simply never sees the rest.

            • Melinda Clayton

              I know exactly what you mean. I also miss mountains (Florida isn’t really known for mountains!) and a feeling of “home.” And I think you’re right – most of us live in and around cities; the thought of such abject poverty existing in this country can seem like a myth.

              Back when I worked in TN in the mental health field I had dozens of clients who had never traveled as far as Memphis, no more than 1.5 hour’s drive from the counties in which I worked. Some had never been outside of the county in which they resided. Granted, this was twenty years ago, but given what I see when we go back to visit family, not much has changed in those areas.

          • Rural poverty is usually hidden from the media mavens, who are typically in large cities. They have no contacts in the boonies or any clue how to connect with rural inhabitants. Far easier to go down to the ghetto or barrio in a city and do a “poverty piece” from there.

  3. This is an excellent opportunity for indies that have print editions of their books to help out.

  4. I predict their mailman will soon need a back-brace.

  5. My offering will be print books, a box full including my own titles and some titles I’ve decided to downsize. Alas, I’m not a woman of color but I hope they’ll take my books anyway.

  6. I’d donate my books, but I have lots of characters who suffer from chronic potty-mouth.

  7. This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing. A bunch of us authors have been passing this around Facebook for the past week, and this will give even more positive exposure. I mailed three trade paper sized books last week by media mail, and though I’m nearly halfway across the country it only cost $3.57. What a small price to pay to help a community get a library 🙂

  8. Mine’s on its way. Thanks for posting this, PG.

  9. I would donate mine, but like the previous commenter, mine explore human sexuality rather intimately.

  10. I will donate my novel. It’s an african-american family drama. Literary fiction. The title is, Born of Sin–book one. Thanks for what you’re doing.

  11. Thanks PG for posting this here.

    I donated a huge stack of art books/ how to paint oils, pastels, drawing conte, portraiture, landscapes, acrylics, journals. I put in some heinlein too. Just went and bought some to send, some hillerman too, all of gabaldon. And some books for readers who are not yet reading at top speed. They will.

    Tending to many a small community over my lifetime, there are people who cannot even afford two dollars extra for anything. The lack of jobs makes for food stamps, medicaid, which is never near enough for whole nutrition nor medical care. Dental care? be serious. internet and cell phones for all kids? I want to cry.

    • Bless you for sending Heinlein …!

      I attended a junior high school that had been my parents’ high school — same building, same library. In the early Seventies, every book in that library was old enough to vote.

      I was so very lucky … I’d held a library card since I was four, my parents would help me circumvent the six-books-a-w-eek-for-kids rule, and the San Antonio Public Library didn’t care about the color of my skin.

      Will browse my local used bookstore for an eclectic mix and send it along … probably will include Heinlein, and Zenna Henderson, Langston Hughes, Jorge Amado (spicy!), and other books I dreamed upon when I was their age …

      • langston and Jorje, yeah and the rest; good choices RB

        they could surely use many copies of heinlein

  12. Patricia Sierra

    Thanks, PG. I just had Amazon send them three books (a trilogy by Sharon Draper, a woman of color … teens love her).

  13. I sent them a copy of Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0756407788/

  14. Allen, I’m probably the least PC/SJW person you’ll ever meet, but Podykane of Mars and Starship Troopers meant the world to me when I was a teenager. Nichelle Nichols meant that my daddy watched SF on TV, because when I was a kid, our family watched any television show that had a black star or co-star.

    To know that there were SF heroes like Johnny Rico and Uhura and Barney Collier, and women SF writers like Zenna Henderson, meant a lot to me when I was a pre-teen. Nubia, Wonder Woman’s sister Amazon, was the first black face I ever saw on a comic book page, and it’s still a cool memory. Langston Hughes’ poetry spoke to me as an eighth grade performer, and still does all these years later.

    I’m in. I can manage a few books a week from the used book store in town. That’ll be a win-win — bookstore gets sales, and kids get books. Woot!

  15. I sent them the first Smokey Dalton novel by Kris Nelscott, and Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker.

    My sister added some Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Octavia Butler, Charlaine Harris, Stephen King, William Doonan, the first Longmire novel. Lots of diversity here.

  16. Thank you to all who have sent books. I’ll be looking around for something I can send.

    I remember how books saved my life when I was a kid. If I hadn’t been able to read, with access to libraries, I wouldn’t have made it through a miserable childhood. I finished everything in the school library before venturing out and learning I could get a card for the public library. What a treasure trove! So many books, and no matter how many I took home every week, there were always more to discover. <3

  17. I grew up pretty poor, and the idea that poor families either budget badly or have disposable income lying around somewhere is totally laughable. Like, I had one pair of shoes in high school. There wasn’t any money for more shoes. There certainly wouldn’t have been any money for Internet or smart phones or Amazon subscriptions.

    So I’m going to go around my house and collect up as many books as I can for these kids. Books were a lifeline for me, as well. They showed me how different the world could be. I wish there was more I could do for libraries like this one!

  18. What an elegant and insightful request. I hope their shelves overflow.

  19. I received some free Apple money today. I’m going to pick out a book or two and let them be primed right to the library’s front door.

  20. steven zacharius

    I’m happy to say that since I saw this article that we will send a carton of books to this school’s library. Kensington is one of the largest publishers of books for the Af-Am market and we will send some of these that are suitable for kids as well as some other reference and general fiction. Thanks for sharing this article.

  21. I also sent them a couple from their wishlist. Here’s hoping the project is a huge success.

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