HAY’S DAZE: One meal and three free books

My lovely sister, who I’m always teasing is “much much older than me” (and really isn’t) may still be a fossil but she sure can read.

She goes through a pile of books in a week like some people (like me) buzz through a bag of buttered popcorn at a movie. It seems like every time we drop by (which is often) my O.S. (Older Sibling) always has a stack of already-read books for us to take away. And I mean a stack that would choke a librarian.

“Keep whatever ones you like,” she’d say, “And give the rest away. I already have a backlog of credit at all the used book stores.” And she means ALL the bookstores from here to the legendary Timbuktu.

Mystery, crime, detective, scary – she’ll eat up any such genre at a pace that is purely prolific. And given my O.S. has such an impressively insatiable appetite for reading, I’m happy to say I’ve stumbled upon the perfect restaurant for her and other devoted devourers of literary delicacies. All she has to do is head to a town called Union, Connecticut – a mere 40 hour, 4,122.9 km drive to the east coast of the U.S. of Eh?

It’s a nice quaint little blue restaurant called Traveler Food and Books, and get this: every person gets their choice of three free books with every meal. That’s right, the popular café gives away somewhere between 1,000 to 2,000 books a week. That’s roughly 100,000 free books a year!

The Traveler Restaurant has been giving away books with meals since the 80s when the owner (obviously a voracious reader) wanted to cut down on the number of books he owned. And when Karen and Art Murdock bought the place in ’93 they also bought into the idea of running a hungry bibliophiles’ nirvana.

I know what you’re thinking: “Is the food any good?” No, not that, I bet you’re thinking: “Where the heck do they get 100,000 books a year to give away?” Right?

Well, beginning with donations from local libraries and community members, the Murdocks “spend a lot of time on book runs.” They hit the road in a 16-foot horse trailer, booking it (sorry) as fast as they can to three different States collecting books from people who call in with donations. And word has got around faster than a hyperactive speed-reader can devour the latest Stephen King.

I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t read like the speed of Connor McDavid on a breakaway. But I like to read two books at the same time. Well, no, I don’t mean one book for each eye simultaneously which, as my friend Fudd would say would “fry my dome”, I mean I like to keep one interesting non-fiction and one juicy fiction on the go so I can read to suit the mood. And since my Rotten Kid, the son one, gave both the Better Half and Yours Truly each a Kobo eReader for our birthdays a few years ago, it has certainly opened up a whole new world of gobbling up books – whether they be old fashioned paper kind or the new-fangled pages-on-a-plastic-screen kind.

While to some people it doesn’t matter whether excellent words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters put together just right are presented on paper or on a pad, that’s a can of monkeys for another lengthy discussion.

Meantime, I doubt very much that I will be able to convince my rapid reading O.S. to drop into the Traveler Food and Books in Connecticut any time soon. Besides, when you consume 4, 5 or 6 books a week, who has time to eat?

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. You can email him column ideas to harleyhay1@hotmail.com