Riley’s Red Wagon Book Swap Raising Readers and Creating Community in Long Beach (CA)

Happy Monday, and Happy 2016!

So, how’s your year going so far? Are you sick and tired of those noisy new toys that the kids got during the holidays just yet? As of this weekend, we crossed over the one-month mark from the Big Gifting Holiday Storm of 2015, so likely the answer is yes, yes you are.

And speaking of weather… boy, oh boy. I mean, here in Southern California it’s certainly nowhere near as chilly or wet (or snow-filled) as it is East of the Mississippi, but winter has certainly settled in here (OK maybe not today, high of 75 is predicted – ha!). But for those colder, wetter days (El Niño is supposedly “coming soon” after all), don’t nice, new books all-around sound like just what the weather ordered?

Riley's Red Wagon Book Swap is sweeping readers all over Long Beach off their feet with free book swaps and a sense of community.

Riley’s Red Wagon Book Swap is sweeping readers all over Long Beach off their feet with free book swaps and a sense of community.

But wait – who said those books need to be new?! Not Justin Rudd, purveyor of Riley’s Red Wagon Book Swap and other good deeds of all kinds all around Long Beach (CA). Rudd has been parking his used book wagon at the corner of The Toledo and Corona Ave. in Belmont Shore since May 2013. The wagon is named in tribute of his beloved bulldog Riley, who passed away around the same time the book swap was founded. Riley used to take long walks with Rudd in this very wagon (Aww!!).

Enjoy free books in Long Beach (CA), thanks to Community Action Team organizer and all-around good guy Justin Rudd.

Enjoy free books in Long Beach (CA), thanks to Community Action Team organizer and all-around good guy Justin Rudd.

How Riley’s Red Wagon Book Swap Works: If you’ve never been before, Rudd says please feel free to help yourself to four free books! Yep, right off the bat he wants you to get hooked. Do note, there is a catch. Once you finish those books, Rudd asks that you to return the books to the wagon and swap them out for new reads. And around and around it goes! At all times, borrowed books are limited to up to 4 per person (take a book, leave a book); magazines are included also, but limited at 1 per person.

Rudd also welcomes new donations during regular wagon hours. From their Facebook page: “Note: We are currently NOT accepting books published prior to 1990, and no text books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, manuals, or VHS tapes. No torn/ripped or water-damaged books. We welcome paperback novels in GREAT or like-new shape only. We DO welcome DVDs. We welcome magazines that are the current edition or previous month’s edition only. No older editions. And, no Westways magazines or other FREE magazines (because generally no one takes them). You can leave book donations on the front porch, on the steps under the U.S. flag in front of the Red Wagon.” 

T loves Riley’s Red Wagon – and BOOKS! Glorious BOOKS!

Riley’s Red Wagon is a hit with our house. I now can no longer drive down The Toledo without T asking to stop off at the wagon to take a look through. And I have to admit I’ve found some great reads here also. Well, I guess there are worse things than raising a reader, right?

Decisions, decisions. Limit of four books, T!

Decisions, decisions. Limit of four books, T!

Thanks for all you do, Justin Rudd! From reading to running, red heel walks to ridding our local coastlines of trash, whatever would Long Beach do without our very own all-around good-deed guy?

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Riley’s Red Wagon Book Swap is at 5209 The Toledo, Long Beach, CA 90803. It is not at E. The Toledo as Yelp, its own Facebook page, and pretty much every other media source lists as that E. directional address will place you smack onto Naples Island and not in front of the book swap, which is in the Belmont Shore neighborhood. Hours are daily Monday-through-Sunday 9 a.m.-to-6:30 p.m. or “til just before dark” (weather-permitting!). Happy reading, RMT’ers!

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