The spoils of the library book sale.

 

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I do think at times I have some psychic moments.

Since Thursday I have been thinking about this one library that I never go to.  I think I have been there once or twice maybe in the last several years, but only to run over a pick up a book they held for me, never having the time to browse around.  It’s just not in my neck of the woods, so to speak.

But anyway, anyway….so, I had been thinking about it and since my hubby and both sons were out of town on Saturday, I took my mom out to this library on a whim.  But there, dropped across the front doors was a sign from the Universe!

It read, Library Book Sale!

Cue chorus of angels!!  

Library book sales are the best!  

All paperbacks fifty cents, hard covers, $1.00 and large hard covers, $2.00.  And at this sale you had a very active and helpful “Friends of the Library,” volunteer staff who said all kinds of wonderful things such as, “Can I help you find something?  Could I take those for you so you don’t have to carry them around?  Would you like them in a large box or bags?” 

That last statement will mean a lot to those like me who clear out trunks and bring wheelbarrows to events such as this.  

My entire bill was twelve dollars.  Twelve dollars!

I worked that sale like the professional I am.

Step One  – seek out the miscellaneous box.  This box has all the books which don’t fit in a specific category.  Many novices pass over it because they don’t want to dig through, but you run the risk of missing some real gems.  In the miscellaneous box I found a beautiful Funk & Wagnalls, copyright 1909, Best of the World’s Classics, edited by Henry Cabot Lodge book.  I’m not a “how-much-is-it-worth-person,” but I do know that this small book is pretty hard to find and will be a great addition to my classics collection. IMG_1770

Step Two look for the books you always wanted to get, but never did.  I loved watching the original Carl Sagan Cosmos series on PBS all those years ago and I always thought I would buy the book, but it just never happened.  I got it yesterday for $2.00.  IMG_1768

Step Three – access Goodreads.  I used to think this was cheating, because part of the fun was discovering a new author on your own, but now…well, money is harder to come by and I have grown reclutant to go exploring on my own.  The lovely community of Goodreads convinced me to purchase, My Several Worlds, by Pearl S. Buck.

Step Four– the travel box.  So much of the travel box is filled with out of date Michelin guide books, snooze!  But if you root around in there you can find some wonderful stuff.  I always look for the travel books written in the fifties and sixties.  The war had ended and a lot of people had the cash for travel, so the travel books have lots of lovely photos and the prose is meant to entice.

Step Five- get a little shallow and go for looks.  Let’s face it, some books are just more attractive than others.  And the library book sale is probably one of the only times you can justify buying for looks only.  My mother got some wonderful needlepoint books which are stunning and I got a lovely book of ghost storiesIMG_1767 with hands-down some of best illustrations I have seen in years.

Step Sixtext books.  I love old text books because of the marginalia.  Whenever I see a text book shelf I first look for the subject matter which appeals to me.  I will be passing on the chemical engineering and the geology, but I love to look in the humanities sections.  Then I thumb through and look for the notes.  This may be some kind of phychosis, but I love to see what others have written to themselves in textbooks.  Yesterday I found a wonderful book, Reading for a Liberal Education, which is filled with notes and some kind of mysterious short hand.  IMG_1769

Step Seven – talk to the other shoppers.  Some book sale shoppers are out for blood.  You know who you are.  But most are wonderful and willing to swap and help you look if you help them.  For example, “Excuse me, I see you have a lot of mysteries there, well, I just saw a wonderful book of Ed Gorey art in the miscellaneous box, if you are interested,” or I’m sorry, but I can’t help, but notice you have the only copy of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, would you be willing to trade for my hardback Isaac Asimov Collected Works?” 

Ah the Library Book Sale!

Good times….good times….

 

 

The Alchemy of a Story

What makes a good book a great book?  

A question that has been debated by far more brilliant minds than mine.  But what the heck!  Let’s pour out some more tea, pull up a chair and see what we come up with.

I just finished reading two books –

“Murder Most Austen” by Tracy Kiely and “The Razor’s Edge” by W. Somerset Maugham.

They were both good books, but only Maugham’s was a great book.  But before you go all I-knew-you-were-going-to-say-that, let me just take a moment to say why.

The Kiely book was everything it said it was going to be.  It was fun and charming and it took me away to The Jane Austen Festival in Bath, where I have always wanted to go.  The author kept me interested in the story and her descriptions were well written enough to where I felt the experience of the festival, as much as the heroine.  This book helped me accomplish a goal.  It had aided in my escape from the realities of an almost fifty-year old working mother.

But it didn’t make me….feel. 

Maugham did that.  In his meandering, lengthy character study, with no great plot twists, he somehow poked a hole in me and I felt.  When I closed the book last night, I lay in my bed with the melancholy of a trip ended, a passage closed.  Larry, Isabel, Sophie, Eliot, they were truly gone and I felt such an emptiness.  But they were never real people.  They were only words on a page…letters strung together.

Words and letters only….words and letters that made me feel.

How is that possible?

I can’t even being to contemplate.

But isn’t it amazing.

Busted at the library –AGAIN!

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“There is a problem with your account.” 

“Please see a librarian for assistance.” 

NOOOOO!

It happened again!  My overdue fees had exceeded the $25.00 mark(don’t judge- just don’t!) yet again and now I was going to have to make that walk of shame up to the check- out desk and well, it could not be a worse time….my mother was with me!

NOOOOO!

My mother, who checks out just as many books as I do, but somehow manages to keep them all in one place and never pay fines.

“Of course I pay fines,” she corrected me. “Last week I had a fine of eighty cents and thank goodness I had cash on me to get that taken care of.”

I just don’t know how the library puts up with me.  They even let me volunteer there.

My husband insists the library not only puts up with me, but loves me.  He says he has done the math and roughly a quarter of our yearly income goes to overdue fees.

Ha,Ha.

As I tuned out my mother’s lecture while driving home, I got to thinking about my lifelong adventures with books and bookstores and libraries and reading…and it was a nice something to think  about.

When I look at my family of readers and how we use the library, we couldn’t be more different.

My oldest son, once he learned how to read, quickly adopted the “been there -done that” attitude toward the library.  He does not read for pleasure.  I can’t complain too much about this because he is doing very well in college and has gotten us lots of nice scholarships.  But he is not a library user.  He views walking into those hallowed halls with all the excitement of standing in line at the DMV.

My youngest son is an ambitious reader, to say the least.

Joe– I think I will check out this large book of ancient cartography essays in the original Greek.

Me– Can you read Greek?

Joe– I’m sure there are footnotes….

My husband is a focused, determined plodder.

He finds a book he wants online, checks to make sure it is available, sets a date and time to go pick up the book, picks up the one book only and proceeds to the electronic check out system, reads the whole book(no matter if he finds it dull or boring–he has made a commitment!), renews his check in date if needed and returns said book to the exact same library.  And he also refuses to let me use his card to check out anything!!  EVER!!! 

My mother, of the no fines, checks out lots of books at a single time.  She loves fiction and devours mysteries and historical fiction.  She can work that library card of hers on the computer like nobodies business.

Renew this one, put a hold on that one…she has the surgical precision of an air traffic controller.

And then there is me. 

The last time I was at the library and paying my $25.00 fine, my stack of books included a book about reading books, one about how classical education has changed over the years, a book giving the main points of six major world religions, a book about the discovery of cave paintings and one about a woman who rehabbed injured song birds.

Remember what I said about judging!

And they are all wonderful!

Now you may be asking how I can’t keep track of them…well, it’s like this….

I might take one in the car to read while I wait to pick up Joe or I might have one in the kitchen to read while I make dinner.  Lot’s of times I take them out on the porch or into my  bedroom or shove them in a tote bag for time at the coffee shop.

Well, they end up all over the place.

But I do get them back to the library eventually!

And if any of my money goes to the support the wonderful institution which allows me to explore my world and the wonderful, wonderful librarians  who never once have gotten upset with me—then it’s money well spent!