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19 Feb - Meet Our Friend: Nathaniel Sandler

Freehand Friends

In need of a good read? Go to our friend Nathaniel Sandler, founder of Miami’s one-of-a-kind mobile library, Bookleggers. Nathaniel and the Bookleggers crew are making big waves in the local literary scene by spreading their love for the written word in unconventional ways. Just last weekend Bookleggers posted up in our backyard for a novel (PUN!) pop-up featuring all of the essential B’s: books, booze and barbecue. And the best part: everyone walked away with a free book. Before getting lost in our newest tome, we chatted up Nathaniel about good reads, Miami’s best spots for culture and how all of us can get involved in the local literary scene. Cliff notes are below:

Freehand Miami: How did the Bookleggers Mobile Library initially get rolling?

Nathaniel Sandler: In short, Bookleggers came out of a need for a literary community. With bookstores closing down and a dearth of places to actually get cheap, used books, we started the library to see if we could create something new. Because let’s be fair, bookstores aren’t exactly a party and maybe that’s partially why they aren’t fully working. Bookleggers strives to create a literary community outside of stodgy places and make it fun to be surrounded by books.

Name five books we need to read this year.

I’m spending March in the Everglades, so here’s my tentative reading list while I’m out there:

1. Killing Mr. Watson by Peter Mathiesson

2. Swamplife by Laura Ogden

3. Fiskadoro by Denis Johnson

4. Swamplandia by Karen Russell

5. SAS Survival Handbook by John “Lofty” Wiseman (because I don’t want to die)

Where is the best place to escape with a book in Miami?

I know it’s everyone’s answer, but the beach is too good. It’s why we’re all here or why we stay. There’s nothing better than getting through a chapter or two and then opening up the book a day later and having sand fall on your lap as a reminder of how amazing the town you live in truly is. Take a weekday afternoon to sit by the lighthouse at Bill Bagg State Park and imagine yourself in a different century.

 What are your favorite local spots for culture?

There are so many places to get your culture fix. The problem in Miami is not that there is no culture, it’s that it requires work on your own part to find the culture. If you sit around complaining about the lack of culture here, sir or madam, then I say you are merely a lazy dolt, who feels the world owes you interesting things without any  real effort of your own.

A good place to start would be Gramps (bar) always has great stuff going on. Gallery Diet is an active, wonderful place. Go to a Gutter Films events or a Borscht screening. Please for the love of all that’s holy go to a New World Symphony event; they are the closest thing we have to a National Treasure. If you really are serious about getting more culture, you’ve GOT to seek it out. Sign up for mailing lists, “like” local organizations on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Don’t be lazy and complain. Think of how awful being lazy and complaining is when you see a friend or someone at work doing it. Don’t be that guy. We all hate that guy.

 How can someone get involved in Miami’s literary scene?

Showing up to Bookleggers is one way. But also any University of Wynwood event, as well as O, Miami events during the month of April. Anything that Mitch Kaplan and the Books & Books team puts on is amazing. We are spoiled here and don’t really know it because such a wealth of writers come down to Miami and so few people show to the events that the access is pretty special. You can meet people face-to-face in a way that might be more difficult in other cities. Also, all of the people living and working in Miami are very approachable and friendly and will welcome you if you want to be welcomed. The best way to be involved is to just show up. You can even show up and be a weirdo because who cares. Also, nearly all of the events are free. Cheap date!

If you could hang out with anyone at The Broken Shaker, living or dead, real or imaginary, who would it be?

This is a tough question. I’ll stay away from the dead, since I don’t want to offend the spirit of anyone’s ancestors. Plus, who better to hang at The Broken Shaker with than the fellas that made that amazing place all happen: Gabe and Elad of Bar Lab. Who doesn’t love stiff drinks accompanied by a little swashbuckling Israeli charm?