Gabe Levinson and his Book Bike have been making headlines since 2008 with a simple mission: free books. For the past three summers, Levinson has loaded up his custom-built tricycle with 200 lbs. of new donated books to give away in the parks. This was questioned last week, when a permitting kerfuffle with the Chicago Park District was resolved amicably by the Chicago Public Library's continued public support of the Book Bike.
Levinson's Book Bike "helps to spread our mission to pass on the love of reading," said Ruth Lednicer, director of marketing for the CPL.
The self-funded Book Bike, which has a front-mounted case that unfolds into three compartments, carries everything from biographies to graphic novels to One Book, One Chicago selections donated by the CPL. Levinson, the former house manager at Steppenwolf, rarely announces where he will park each weekend.
"Part of the excitement is coming across this weird thing in the park," said Levin, a Columbia College fiction writing graduate. If you see a man reading on a three-wheeler with a teal case crowned by a sign that says, "Help Yourself," all you have to do is ask.
Visit: Various Chicago Park District locations, Saturday and Sunday in the summertime, or go to bookbike.org.
Robert Duffer is a freelance writer in Chicago. Find him at robertduffer.com.