Linda J. Spielman’s A Field Guide to Tracking Mammals in the Northeast is a wonderful reference tool for the backyard enthusiast or the back-to-the-woods survivalist. Countryman Press published her book on July 4 and her distributor W.W. Norton sent a copy I donated to a Little Free Library here in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Little Free Libraries began in Wisconsin and grew into a global movement based on a simple premise: take a book, leave a book. Now a nonprofit organization, Little Free Libraries, inspires a love of reading, build community, and spark creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges.

Here in Appleton there are hundreds of Little Free Libraries scattered across many neighborhoods. There is a new one on Winona Way where I used to live. Across from City Park, there’s one that looks exactly like the house it sits in front of in the historic district. Most elementary schools have one on the playground or near the main entrance. They’re everywhere.

Recently I stopped at the Little Free Library on Pacific Street to leave a new copy of Linda Spielman’s new field guide and took an old paperback edition of Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women. First published in 1952, this comedy of manners is a favorite of mine. The book details the everyday life of a “spinster” in her thirties in 1950s England and her witty spoof on gender relations in a self-deprecating voice with the sharpest wit is something to reread.

There is a certain irony in that Linda Spielman reminds me of Barbara Pym with her quick wit, sharp mind, and light heart. And if you didn’t know this were a street in Appleton, the English gardens and whimsical Little Free Library create a literary landscape straight out of a book.

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