From my vantage point on the sitting bus, I could see the “free books” table along Mass Ave near Harvard Square. At the center, a box marked “donations.” People walked by, stopped for a minute or two, then carried on. A group of men stood or sat on camping chairs near the table. Some piled more books from a tattered pullcart attached to a bike. A few men wore camoflauge jackets. They slapped each other’s backs and traded warm greetings, petted the sad dog perched atop a shopping cart full of belongings. They seemed happy to be offering this public service, this book exchange, but I could only assume it was a fleeting feeling.