Recently, Friends of Chandler Public Library received a donation of a style of book we haven't encountered before – an Armed Services Edition of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. The paperback book is 6.5” x 4.5”, and according to a volunteer who read When Books Went to War, it was designed to fit in a service person's pants pocket. This volunteer told us how much these pocket books increased literacy rates during World War II. She said that favorite titles included A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Great Gatsby, which apparently became much more popular after they were published for the troops in this format.
When Books Went to War is a history of the joint effort of the U.S. government, the publishing industry and the nation's librarians to boost troop morale during World War II by shipping more than one hundred million books to the front lines. According to reviewers, reading about this little-known effort is eye-opening, from understanding how reading calmed stress among soldiers and sailors and helped with symptoms of what we now know as PTSD, to discovering how this freedom to read contrasted with Nazi efforts to censor and burn books, to learning how books like The Great Gatsby – nearly forgotten during the 1940s – were saved from going out of print by this renewed popularity. Reading When Books Went to War is a great way to observe Veterans Day.
Learn more about how you can donate to Friends of Chandler Public Library. Most of our donations go to the Friends Bookshop at Downtown and Sunset Libraries, where you can find great prices on gently used books every day and special sales throughout the year, such as our Holiday & Children’s Book sale Nov. 29 through Dec. 12. Proceeds from Friends Bookshop sales help fund library events and services.