Just. One. Book. Updates and Observations.

Honestly, folks. I do write about other things. I figured if you’re following my posts lately that I should let you know that. Tales of a Sierra Madre is my blog hub with links to all the esoteric creative things I wind up doing in this beautiful but strange place called Plumas County. Since I’m more of a writer than a blogger, things over there tend to go looong. I started Throwing Chanclas to be fun! Short! Photo driven! Light hearted and airy. Or something like that.

Anyhow, I’ve received a few emails on here wanting to know if I am a real person and if this book drive is real, etc. Yes. I am a real person. I write for a newspaper by day. I’m also a fiction writer. And I write and produce a play every once in a while. Also? I love books, I have too many, and I’m constantly giving them away. As I think many of you are too.

IMG_7340So this is me. Margaret Elysia Garcia. When I do modeling or anything of that nature I use Greta Garcia. Because ‘Margaret’ sounds like someone’s aunt in an old folks home. Not the sexiest name. And for the reporting gig and when I have to write something innocuous and boring I go by Maggie Wells whom I assume is my doppleganger sorority pledging, well-married twin with no student loan and a much larger house.

But then there’s you! You’ve been sending books. You are amazing. Sunday was hard. I’m from a very gay family–as in lesbian mothers, lesbian sister in law,  raised by gay men in the 70s, etc. My best friend from junior high was off  at Pride in DC with his new husband and we were doing that FB thang  and then bam. Orlando. And it reminded me of the kid in my daughter’s class who always tries to tease the one lesbian girl in class. And I wonder sometimes is there a way that I can personally offset this madness and hatred? Can I give the bully a book ? Will it open her world? Maybe. Maybe not. But I have to try.

And then it was Monday and  I stopped by the post office to mail a package and the post master lady said can you pull your car around back?


And then I drove to Greenville High School/Indian Valley Academy and the secretary looked up from her computer and said, “WHAT DID YOU DO?” I walked into the library and saw this:


So thank you. You restored my faith in humanity. And the cool English teacher and our awesome special Ed teacher and the culinary arts teacher–who is used to getting all book requests denied  all stood there at different times with their jaws dropped.  We are so used to being ignored that it is taking awhile to sink in. I started crying when I opened books. I sniffed in the books. If anyone was watching I’m sure it looked weird. I also cried when I read some of the notes with the books. Full disclosure: my dad and his wife  flew my kids out to Wisconsin to visit him and go kayaking in the North Woods so I’m a little weepy this week anyway. 

But you people are beautiful. Here are three themes going on in the notes.

  1. Retired librarians (and current ones ) get really pissed off at closed libraries. I am picturing some kind of librarian march on Washington where you all just shame Congress for continually gutting arts and education.
  2.  You remember where you came from. So many people are writing “I grew up in a small town and books SAVED me. I can’t imagine not having books. Here’s my favorite.” To this I say I know what you mean. I was a very shy army brat and it always took me six months to say hello to people. Meanwhile I just made friends with books.
  3. You care about the nation’s children and rural America. You send books to open up worlds to them. I opened up a box for LGBTQ teens and cried yet AGAIN. 

So from the bottom of my very real heart. THANK YOU.

Tomorrow is my day in the big city–the neighboring town of Quincy (population 5000) but I’ll be back on Thursday–stopping at the post office and the library. I can only imagine what the table will look like then.

So Thank you! And I’m so sorry if I’m slow in answering email. As all people who live here do, I have like six part time jobs (think Northern Exposure). So I can only get to so many at once. Here’s the current wish list for those asking:

Amazon Wish List.

And to whomever ( I think it was a few people) sent kindles YOU ROCK SO HARD THANK YOU. My husband the IT guy will be setting them up this summer so they’ll be ready to go come fall semester in September!



  1. Alicia Ahlvers

    A coworker has been hitting up the collection development department at the library for donations to send to you. I put the new Jazz Jennings title in a box for her to deliver in memory of this weekend’s tragedy. I hope every teen in your hometown finds the book they need.

    Also, I had to pull the car over this morning while I was listening to The Serpent King by Zentner so issue a warning when you give that one to people. It will make you Ugly Cry.

  2. Annette Aiwohi

    Would you be interested in older nooks? Do you folks already have a children’s library stacked full? And can you tell us what you plan to do with any books you decide aren’t really for your library project? Thanks. Glad you asked for help as there are so many who will do so… Good luck! ~Annette

    1. margaretelysiagarcia

      I spoke with my aunt who happens to be an assistant librarian at another rural school library about an hour away from me. So between the two of us we will distribute what ever and where ever is needed between the two communities after the Library Project is up and running. We do have a full elementary library as there was a school closure which meant that the one elementary school library now has books from two libraries.

  3. Connie

    Is it possible for you to enter your school as one of those organizations that you can pick at Amazon Smile, so you can also get cash back from people who buy and list you as their Amazon Smile recipient??? Sort of a “2 birds with one stone” thing.
    Anyway, as a retired librarian, I so appreciate what you are doing for this school and it so amazing to see what has already been sent!!

  4. reynardo

    So it looks like the Secret World Plan to bury the school in Cool Books is working! BWA-HA-HA-HA!

    More seriously, this just got sent around to friends of mine, so I don’t think it’s going to stop here.

    Is there anything from Australia that the kids might like? Indigenous stories? Biology of Kangaroos and Koalas? I could send a picture postcard once a month from here (I already do for some friends in Washington state)


  5. Stephanie

    You mentioned some people sent kindles so let me suggest if you haven’t used them yet or hadnt thought of them for this purpose: bookbub.com is one of my favorite things ever. They send a daily email to me with cheap and FREE books, from genres I selected. There’s at least one free book in my email every day, and I’ve only got one or two genres selected.

    I also get a daily email from book barbarian, same genres selected and I’ve rarely seen the two offer the same books. There are tons of free books available and if the kindles are all linked to the same amazon account, they only have to be ‘purchased’ once and can then be downloaded to however many devices. Just… Try to make sure they’re not going to auto-sync so that if two people are reading it throws off their place. ☺️

  6. Ann Lang

    With your permission, I’d like to post a public Google Doc where folks can list the books / dvds / cds that they’ve sent, to avoid duplication of effort.

    (I already posted this comment, but it never appeared; don’t know if you’re moderating or if I’m spamming you – if so, apologies!)

  7. B Marquis

    Would the culinary arts teacher like anything in particular for the library? I went to culinary school and would love to help with anything that may interest a kid in that field.

  8. Pamela Lagoudakis

    Yes! Can we get a list posted on what books and things you have so we make sure to send a variety?? I can’t wait to send some books! This is amazing!

  9. Leslie Kline Capelle

    I am so inspired by this project, and for the volume of support you have received already. A dear friend had posted this to her FB page, and I found it there. So, before I actually read through all of your updates and found your wishlist, I went a little nuts, and ordered 2 copies of most of my favorite books from childhood. No library can be without some basic Leo Leonni and Lloyd Alexander. I included some Harriet Tubman (contemporary and youth biographies), The Kite Runner, a little Maya Angelou, Tituba of Salem Village, and some youth sci-fi. I threw in the Big Red Songbook, for inspiration from great musicians and lyricists. May this project flourish, and may all libraries be well-stocked, well-visited, well-supported, and well-loved.

  10. Phyllis Elmo

    When I go to the Amazon Wish List link, there are 0 entries. Has the list been exhausted? Are there genres you prefer? I’d like to help.

      1. Deb

        Where do you want donations mailed to (if wish list is 0 so not sure on mailing address)? PO Box 585 Greenville, CA 95947?

        Also, only new books or gently used ones too?

  11. Melinda Raiford Buchanan

    When I changed schools a few years ago, my 9th grades kids came in as hardened book haters. Long story, but it had to do with a punitive AR program in elementary school. They weren’t going to read, and they were determined that I wasn’t going to get them to read. Especially the boys. And then I pulled out compendium 1 of The Walking Dead graphic novels. Boys started racing to be the first in class every day until I was able to get more copies.

    I’m thinking that if your kiddos haven’t had exposure to high interest books, some of them won’t be as eager to pick up a novel, or they won’t have the stamina to finish. With that in mind, I’ve sent The Walking Dead, compendium 1, 2, and 3.

  12. Sita

    Would the culinary arts teacher be able to use any cookbooks? I have a few that I was going to donate already and well, I can send them your way if they can be useful. I also have a bunch of sci-fi and fantasy books in my donate pile. It may be a few weeks or so before I can visit the post office, upcoming orthopedic surgery, but I will make it to the post office. =^..^=

  13. Brooke

    YAY!!!! This is AMAZING. I’m sobbing. People are good and amazing and generous. Yay books! We sent a few graphic novels (Superman) and can send more if that’s cool with you guys! My husband is the librarian at DC Comics – we always have extra graphic novels laying around the house – happy to send them to a new home if we can! I’ll make sure they’re age appropriate.

  14. Avid reader

    My heart breaks… My kids have practically grown up in the public library and I cannot imagine our lives without books. The Amazon link didn’t appear to have a populated list (it said zero) but I’m happy to send some new and gently used books. So happy you care about the kids having books to read! (And nothing smells as good as a new book ;-))

  15. Michael E. Schmidlen

    As a lifetime student of extended learning, I’d like to share a 4 page word doc of links to sites offering FREE classes and learning, a single link represents over 1,000 such sources, I have compiled this list with contributions from many of my friends, who I’ve gladly shared this with. Please continue to add to this and have it become a living, breathing document 🙂 (I’ve e-mailed this under separate cover).

    In addition, I am a publishing partner and an investor in a Digital Publishing Start-up, a software-as-a-service platform called MagTitan. The link below is access to 20 magazines that we publish in house, and ALL are FREE to read or subscribe to: http://ofelevenmedia.com/magazines/

    Our software is FREE to register & use at the base level and we would certainly appreciate your feedback and constructive comments:


    I’ve also sent 2 autographed/personalized books that I was a co-author of – Sent 6/17/16

  16. SJ Himes

    Hi! Just wanted to say I think this is an amazing and selfless thing you’re doing for the kids in your community. I sent one item from the wish list, and sent two LGBT+ YA novels as well that are personal favorites. I’m an author and I love books–I spent most of my school years in the library. I wish I could send my own books, but they are very much not teen friendly and I didn’t think it was appropriate. Please keep us updated on the project and i wish you and the kids the best! Happy reading!

  17. Cathy Chapman

    I have a Kindle I no longer use. It has bunches of books on it (adult) but don’t know if that is OK with Amazon. I’d be glad to send it if that works.
    I just sent 2 newberry books and one of my favs when I was a kid… yes long ago, but I don’t think Call of the Wild is ever old.

  18. Isabel Bennett

    So now that the books are pouring in, I’m wondering if you have the materials you need to wrap and protect your books…especially the paperbacks?

  19. momfawn

    I was sobbing by the end of your update! I have been on the rescuing end of two school libraries, one as a 7th grader and one as a teacher/volunteer librarian, and I feel your pain. I shared your blog plea for “just one book” with my FB friends (mostly a book-obsessed lot), and several of them responded that they were sending books or ordering from your wishlist. I’m sending “The Art of the Confectioner” from your Amazon list, and my granddaughters will be donating from their overflowing bookshelves here at home. (To brag just a bit: My 10 year old granddaughter reads on an 8th grade level, and the 6 year old is reading 2nd grade books. Books are a big deal in our house.) There is a special place in Heaven for people who connect kids with books, and your reading spot has already been secured. Bless you! – Fawn

    1. margaretelysiagarcia

      Great to have good readers in the house. My kids are kind of the same way. It’s kind of hard to find good books for an 11 year old who reads like she’s 20 but you know, not interested in post -puberty things.

  20. Judy V

    After reading your previous posting I shared this on the FB The Danamaniacs (fans of Dana Stabenow). The word has gone out and members are notifying other authors here and in Europe. I have heard that an author from Scotland may be sending an autographed book or two for the library. Hope you fill the room up soon.

  21. Kim Klimek

    My daughter is SpEd, and her SpEd team and I would like to send something for your SpEd team (I’ve already sent you my favorites! ). Any requests?

  22. Robin Clune

    “And to whomever ( I think it was a few people) sent kindles YOU ROCK SO HARD THANK YOU. My husband the IT guy will be setting them up this summer so they’ll be ready to go come fall semester in September!”

    Don’t forget to add kindle books to the wish list so we can load them up too!

  23. Jennifer Ja Strobel

    I checked the Amazon wish list and didn’t see anything that looked culinary arts specific. Is the Culinary Arts teaching looking for any additional books or equipment? History of Food related? What would be helpful?

    If that’s too big a question – do you have/want Harold McGee “On Food and Cooking”, Alton Brown “I’m Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking”, or J. Kenji López-Alt “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science”? Each of them are technique/science of cooking heavy (McGee’s book is not recipes, it’s food science) and are kind of my “buy these if you want to understand cooking” (as vs “buy these if you want to learn to cook”) books.

    Let me know.

      1. Mar Cy

        I volunteer with a wonderful project: The Laundry Basket Library Project. (Mansfield, OH) We receive donations from all segments of our community and in turn distribute over 1,000 books per month into our community’s less privileged areas. (This began over 15 years ago with a grant for a teacher to put one laundry basket of books in a laundromat… and we’ve grown from there.) My group has an abundance and would be happy to fill specific needs. We recently discussed also providing a personal book to each student for them to keep. If that sounds great – I’m your point person. Email me and we can tailor what we have to what you need/want. We have many retired school teachers in our volunteer core who will know how to maximize the fit you need.

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