18 Bookshelves and Counting…

Matt Mitchell is among my favorite neighbors. He lives across the street and I often see him on long walks around town. He has lived in the same house for 45 years with his late wife Mia, where they raised two children now grown.  Everyone in the family liked to read – and read aloud – and be read to.  So he accumulated many, many books on almost every subject. However, Matt reached the tipping point when he realized that all 18 bookshelves in his home were crammed and overflowing.

So Matt did something uncharacteristic.  He threw a party.  It was a book party full of conversation, cookies, wine and cheese…and the party favors were books.  Neighbors enjoyed picking and choosing while Matt supervised and poured the wine: (from left) Fred Nachtwey, and Janet White with daughter Melina, a senior at College Preparatory School.
To get the book party off the ground, Matt sent out personal invitations to all his neighbors, young and old.  It was a happening, as people browsed through the carefully organized boxes of books.  When more than one person wanted the same book, Matt brought out a deck of playing cards.  Everyone gathered around.  Whoever drew the highest card got first choice! Books that remain will be donated to the Berkeley Public Library which accepts donations of books that it resells to raise money for its operations: Friends of the Library, 510-981-6211


In the book drawings, Zoe Carr kept drawing aces and emerged the Big Winner.  Zoe just turned ten and wants to be an author.  Matt has degrees from Cal in both economics and from the University’s law school, then called Boalt Hall. He practiced law for many years in SF before trying his hand as an inventor and researcher for the Government’s Missile Defense Agency. Over his career as inventor, he acquired fourteen patents. Now retired, he’s a volunteer for several neighborhood groups and chairs Berkeley’s Disaster and Fire Safety Commission.

3 Responses to “18 Bookshelves and Counting…”

  1. penny simmi Says:

    This is a wonderful idea. I’d been thinking about doing something like this, but Matt has given me the required know-how to now do it right! I love drawing from a deck of cards to solve the problem of two people wanting the same book.

    Thanks, Julie.


  2. We were there and came away with more books than we need, but all good. Matt’s collection is eclectic.

    It was a delightful, friendly event, meeting new people and revisiting with familiar folks. Having so many young children present made the experience special. A generation of book lovers is on the way!

    We’ve lived here for 51 years and it’s good to see the increase of young families.

  3. How wonderful
    wish I was there

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