By Kathie Felix
I had the best surprise the other day when I opened my mailbox. The first thing I saw was a brown cardboard box that seemed close in size and shape to a hard cover book. I immediately assumed that it contained a book – and then remembered I hadn’t ordered anything lately.
As I walked to my front door, I began to wonder about the package. This turned out to be great fun; the cascade of possibilities – in terms of the contents and the sender – genuinely appealed to the mystery lover in me.
Once indoors, I thought about spending more time in speculation. I took a few steps toward the living room, enjoying the anticipation – and then decided it might be even more fun to know what was inside the box.
It was a treat to open the package and find a copy of Chicago Blues, edited by Libby Fischer Hellmann.
If you haven’t encountered the book yet, it’s an anthology of crime stories about “the real windy city,” with selections written by Chicago authors including SinC founding mother and 2011 MWA Grand Master Sara Paretsky.
It turned out that a longtime friend, Keith Fort, a Chicago resident for most of his adult life, was reading the book and thought that it was something that I would enjoy. He was absolutely correct.
My good fortune at the mailbox reminded me that a few months earlier I had received another unexpected package. That mailing, from my sister, contained a copy of The Murder Room by Michael Capuzzo, a look into the secret investigations of the crime-fighting Vidocq Society. She had been inspired to send the book to me after hearing about it on National Public Radio.
The two surprise packages led me to develop a plan to send another book out into the world to an unsuspecting recipient. I won’t reveal the title or the recipient, but I will offer some questions:
Have you ever received an unexpected gift of a book? Who sent it – and what book did they send?
Would you send a book that’s a perfect fit to an unsuspecting recipient this week? Would you ask an independent bookseller to handle the transaction for you? (And, if you like the idea, would you pass it on?)
Kathie Felix is the managing editor of the SinC blog. She also writes a weekly column for the Loudoun Times-Mirror, a newspaper based in Leesburg, Virginia.