by Mallory Moad
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Imagine tables filled with over 200 books! Wait – these books are mysteriously wrapped in brown paper, identified only by a label which describes key plot elements. Do you feel lucky? You carefully choose one or more, if you’re in an adventurous mood. When you get home and remove that discreet cover to reveal its true identity, will your selection be a total loser or will it rock your world? Welcome to Blind Date with a Book, part used book sale, part library, part guessing game and one hundred percent fun!
Libraries and book stores all over the world have been hosting Blind Dates regularly for the past five years. Taking place in such locations as Santa Cruz, Chicago, San Francisco and Amarillo, as well as cities in Australia and the UK, it has been used as an intriguing way to promote reading and increase sales. After encountering a magazine article about the popularity of Blind Date with a Book, Fresno’s purveyor of positive energy, Lisa Fialho, thought it would be a good way to promote the Tower District and get affordable books into the hands of readers. “I remember going to trinket shops on vacations and buying those one-dollar grab bags, the kind where you have no idea what’s inside. The simple mystery and surprise sounded like fun.”
Here’s how Blind Date with a Book, Fresno Style works: Each Blind Date takes place in a different location in the Fresno Tower District. Books (most are donated) are priced at $2.00 for one, $3.00 for two and $5.00 for three. Each book comes with a “Rate Your Date” book mark that is good for one dollar off at the next sale. Because Lisa is a mom and strongly believes literacy begins at a young age, there is always a table of free books for children. That’s right, kids’ books are absolutely free! But here’s the twist – all proceeds go to literacy, education or community service organizations. Ted C.Wills Head Start, Storyland and Kit’s Kits have benefited from the generosity – and curiosity – of local book lovers.
I am a Blind Date with a Book volunteer and the experience has been kick in the pants! Watching people dissolve into giggling fits over descriptions, challenging each other to guess a title or seeing parents sit down and read to their kids is both entertaining and heartwarming. Conversations with customers about reading have led to recommendations of titles and authors. Who said books were going to go the way of the dinosaur? Balderdash! I even picked up a book for myself at the last sale. Was it a dud or did it set my heart on fire? I’m not one to kiss and tell…
The next Blind Date with a Book will take place at Mia Cuppa on Valentine’s Day. Grab a cup of coffee and join the fun, starting at 10:00 a.m. My name is Mallory Moad. Who knows what Central Valley adventures await me in 2016?
You can find all of Mallory’s Valley Parade articles in KRL’s Arts & Entertainment section.