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You already know how I feel about libraries.  But here is something even more miraculous.  The Bay Area FREE Book Exchange in El Cerrito (North of Berkeley) is a cooperative run by local booksellers/booklovers.  It is literally a 'œstore' full of FREE books.  Whenever I’m in a store and an item doesn’t have a price tag I always wish that meant that it was FREE.  Well it doesn’t, except here.  Walk into a store, pick something up, and walk out?  It almost feels shameful, but that behavior is completely acceptable and encouraged here!  The only rule at the Book Exchange is that you can’t take more than 50 books in one day.  This is a sensible limit since you’d have to be some kind of weirdo packrat to need more books than that in a day (unless you’re some kind of reading prodigy in which case: bravo and also write this book report for me that’s due tomorrow).


As of November 15th, the Book Exchange has given away 27,697 books.  Their goal is to 'œplace unwanted books with people who want them,' and more specifically, to have given away 100,000 books by sometime in 2010.  I know we all like to think of ourselves as good, charitable, philanthropic, selfless, altruistic, civic-minded people but most of us aren’t really all that good.  Only 26% of Americans actually engage in community service.  So think of it this way: at the Book Exchange all you have to do to help out a good cause is take FREE stuff (and/or donate books if you feel inclined).  I don’t think bettering the community has ever been this easy, so go do a good thing and take take take!

Bay Area FREE Book Exchange
10520 San Pablo Ave. @ Sutter [El Cerrito]
(510) 705-1200
Open Every Weekend: Saturday & Sunday 9am-6pm

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Chloe - Pennywise Reporter

Chloe - Pennywise Reporter

Chloe's youth was split between California and Kauai, frolicking on a macadamia nut farm in the tropics and landing finally in the Bay Area. Raised by super-Jew hippies, and the youngest of three sisters, Chloe learned early the virtues of thrift, economy, and green living. To the chagrin of her parents (who hoped, of course, for a Jewish doctor or lawyer), Chloe has put her degree from UC Berkeley to great use by becoming a folk singer. As "Chloe Makes Music" she plays shows throughout SF and beyond, donning vintage frocks, selling handmade merch, and pinching pennies as she sings for her supper. Calling Berkeley home for the last six years, you can think of Chloe as the website's East Bay Correspondent, opening your eyes to the hippie-filled, tree-hugging, organic-loving, vegan-eating, but way-overlooked and awesome assets of Berkeley, Oakland, and beyond.