Two times a year, our public library holds a book sale. Imagine: you walk into a room. There are tables lining the walls, running up and down the center of the room. Each table is covered by the lids of cardboard boxes. Inside each lid are books of all types and all varieties and all ages. Usually there are so many that they are in lids under the tables, that the books are refreshed at various times throughout the three-day sale. Children's and teen's books generally have their own room; last time, so did the mysteries. There are romance novels, science fiction, historical, language, and fiction and nonfiction labels popping up around the area. Cookbooks, too. And records, cassettes, DVDs and VHS (yes, the old technology is not completely gone), sheet music and magazines, all piling up on the floors, in bags, in people's arms.
It's warm, too--because of how tightly so many bodies are packed into the rooms. Craning over the spines of books, hunting for just the right ones.
Did I mention that these books are sold by the pound? $1 per pound for softcover, 50 cents a pound for hardcover (if I'm remembering right).
Now you know what it's like.
Each sale, my brother and I take off a few hours from work, and the Thursday morning (always the first day) of the sale, we go there. It starts at 7:00; by 8, I always have tons of books.
These are books from all over--discarded library copies, books people have donated that never sold at their garage sales, books people donated to the library, anyway. I've found the greatest things there, too; like a fairly complete set of Louisa May Alcott books, a box of Agatha Christie novels, The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop (and a special love of mine from way back), a gazillion copies of The Wind in the Willows, A Wrinkle in Time, and other classics from my childhood. Mary Poppins, for one. Not the movie version--the original book. (Read it, if you haven't.) My favorite spot is the children's room. I'm not above recommending my favorite books to children when I'm in there, either. I hate to see them sitting forlornly on the shelf. They must be read!!!
The sale was yesterday, and although there were definitely fewer books, and I spent the least amount I ever have, there (only $19! The money supports our library, though, so it's totally worth it), I still came away with a ton of treasures. Including a book of poetry that includes the Lady of Shalot! (I'm an Anne of Green Gables fan. I had to get it.)
On the way in, though, some of the ladies standing in line around me were chatting about e-readers. Now, I haven't made up my mind about e-readers--in some ways, I so want one! In other ways, I'm just so reticent--I love to hold a book, to see them on the shelf. (But not to move a library full of them. That's just no fun.) I thought it was such an odd contradiction, to discuss the most recent technology for reading while waiting for a sale that would allow you to pick through (often) dusty books from Beatrix Potter to copies of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám to Tony Morrion's Beloved to Eragon to Isaac Asimov to French-, Spanish-, Latin-, German- and even Arabic-English dictionaries...well. You get the idea. (I have bought all of these examples at this sale, by the way.)
I'm still on the fence about the e-reader, but I think I've made it a goal to get one. In the meantime, though, and even after, I'm sure, I will always love my books. And I will remember the moment I had yesterday, when I grabbed a book from the box lid and thought, "Some day, maybe some of the bloggers and I will have something laying in these boxes. And maybe somebody will even recommend it to someone else."
It was enough to give me goosebumps.