Loaners: The Making of a Street Library (Paperback)
In 2011, Laura Moulton founded Street Books, a bicycle-powered lending library serving folks living outside in Portland, Oregon. That summer, Ben Hodgson became one of her most dedicated regulars, setting the still-unbeaten single season record for borrowing. Then winter came, and Ben's routines changed, and they didn't see each other for two years Loaners is the story they began to tell when they reconnected.
Their story is a lot of things: It's an oral history of a friendship, told in hyper-observant vignettes. It's a much-needed report from the frontlines of Portland's housing crisis. It's a DIY guide to creating your own street library. It's an indelible portrait of what it's like to experience houselessness for three and a half years. It's an unforgettable exercise in empathy. It's also very funny.
Hodgson (or "Hodge" as Laura calls him) is a classic raconteur, and Moulton matches him tale for tale. Loaners alternates between their perspectives in an addictively readable, occasionally sublime way.
About the Author
Ben Hodgson was a computer technician in the air force and a cab driver for many years. He is currently on the board of Street Books, and works as a street librarian, speaker, and inventory specialist. Laura Moulton is an adjunct professor at Lewis & Clark College and leads residencies in high schools for Literary Arts. Over the years she has taught writing in public schools, prisons, and teen shelters. Moulton is the founder of Street Books, Portland’s bicycle-powered street library.
"As someone saved by books when homeless, I know that true resiliency lies in the imagination. Kudos to Street Books for bringing the magic literature to so many souls on the street, and this illuminating, powerful story to all of us." Rene Denfeld, bestselling author of The Child Finder
"One of the single best ideas I’ve seen in this town." Omar El Akkad, author of American War and What Strange Paradise