Bookleggers Mobile Library Returns to Lester's Thursday Night

Categories: Books, Culture
Photo by Daniel Milewski
A scene from the inaugural Bookleggers event in July
While the words "Miami" and "literary" are two words you see infrequently in the same sentence (except, maybe, in a joke), there are increasingly frequent glimmers of hope for the city's word-lovers. The latest example: the return Thursday night of Bookleggers, an event that began, ostensibly, as a one-off last month at Lester's, brainy Miami's unofficial watering hole.

Co-founders Nathaniel Sandler and David Gonzalez conceived the inaugural event as something of a one-night mobile library and book swap fueled by beer and wine. Now, based on that evening's success, they're motivated to make it a more regular thing.

The concept is simple: Sandler and Gonzalez arrive with a base collection to work with. You can show up with your own tomes for trade, fork over a $2 donation to take a book "on a long vacation," or, if you're really hard up, just borrow one on the honor system. Either way, you can look forward to an eclectic collection made more eclectic by last month's swaps.

"Unusual offerings are in no short supply at Bookleggers. Take, for instance, Thomas Craughwell's Stealing Lincoln's Body, the bizarre and absolutely true story of an attempt to rob Abraham Lincoln's grave and hold the corpse for ransom," says Gonzalez. "Or, Josh Neufeld's A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge, a crazy, beautiful graphic novel about life in New Orleans post-Katrina. The best compliments we've gotten have been about the strength of our collection."

Last month, too, the collection enjoyed a particularly heady infusion thanks to a donation from book-world boldfacers Ruth and Marvin Sackner, founders of the Miami Beach-based Sackner Archive of Visual and Concrete Poetry. "Now all of the books I donated feel like they came in second place at the spelling bee," says Sandler.

For Thursday night, though, they've got some requests. Sandler and Gonzalez hope to take Bookleggers out of just Lester's, eventually, and throughout the county's various multilingual neighborhoods. (Eventually, they say, they also hope to take the operation completely mobile via truck.) With that in mind, consider bringing Spanish- and French-language volumes, specifically. Otherwise, just bring material you think Miami needs to read.

"We're firm believers that books should be shared and passed around. It's true that sometimes that most perfect of all books will find its way to you by complete happenstance," says Gonzalez. "But sometimes you need a trusted friend to say, 'Here. You have to read this, now.' With Bookleggers, we're a bit of both."

"In other words, if you enjoy French symbolist poetry, don't snatch the totally sweet Rimbaud and trade us your mother's Harry Potter and the Da Vinci Shades of Grey," adds Sandler. "We'll remember you."

Bookleggers, 8 p.m. Thursday, August 23 at Lester's, 2519 NW Second Ave., Miami. Admission is free. Call 305-456-1784, visit, or follow @bookleggers.

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Location Info

Lester's - CLOSED

2519 NW 2nd Ave., Miami, FL

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