Friday, March 27, 2009

Big Book Sale

I had been waiting for the Big Book Sale at the main branch of the downtown library for three weeks - it was to be my first. The day finally came yesterday; I stared at the clock all morning. At precisely 1:00 p.m. I told the secretaries that I had a "meeting" at 2:00 o'clock, but could be reached by my cell phone. (I was dressed in jeans, a baggy sweater and running shoes, so I wasn't fooling anyone with my big lie.) Being a library book sale virgin, I wasn't certain whether checks or credit cards would be acceptable, so I stopped at my bank and got some cash. Can't go wrong with cash, right? I had been salivating over this event for so long; must not screw it up over such a minor detail. When I got to the library, I could see this was a HUGE "tad ah," and the closest parking spot I could find was 3 blocks away, down an alley, under an oak tree that was shedding pollen everywhere. I wasn't worried about the $25.00 I just spent on a car wash and hand polish. I was on my way! Although I had the foresight to bring two canvas shopping bags with me to haul away the loot, in my excitement I left them in the car and didn't realize it until I was standing in line. And what a line it was! A very old, slightly frail looking gent asked me, "Is this the book sale line, young lady?" Young lady! I love you, dear sir. This day is turning out so good. He and I stood next to a display celebrating the 100th birthday of the songwriter,Johnny Mercer - one of our hometown heros (Moon River, Skylark, Somethings Got To Give, Fools Rush In, Laura, and on and on). Pointing to the movie posters and sheet music, the old gent said loudly (old gents seem to often say things loudly) "They don't make movies like that anymore. They don't write songs like that anymore, either." "No, they don't," I said smiling. "Back then, you could understand the words. The words meant something back then." "Yes," I continued to smile. "The words they write now don't mean anything. You can't even sing the songs." I am thinking, "Skidamarink-a-dink-a-dink, Skidamarink-a-do, I love you." But I am saying, "No, sir, you certainly can't." The old gent was standing in a long line, waiting for 2:00 to come, because he still loved books. When at last we began to move, the old gent looked up at the clock and exclaimed, "What do you know, they opened the door one minute early!" Clearly, he was as anxious as I was. Later, I was to look up and see him carrying an armload of books to the cashier. He had found his treasures; I was happy.

When my turn came to enter the chaos of the book sale hall, I saw that books were piled on top of tables, in boxes under the tables, and on window sills, and I had no idea where to begin. There had apparently been some effort to place the books by categories: Cooking, Adult Fiction, YA Fiction, History, etc. But the signage was small and, to be honest, the crowds made it impossible to figure out where anything was. So, I just went to where the crowd propelled me and found myself standing at the table where the cookbooks were set up. What joy! Kismet! Nirvana! Right under my nose were three Julia Child cookbooks, and Beard on Bread by James Beard. I gathered them up in my arms - not easy since one is a huge volume - and allowed myself to get swept along once again in the tide...allowing fortune to land me at another table. And so it went for 45 minutes. Happily, one of the library sale volunteers handed me two plastic shopping bags to tote my books around (landfill be damned - this was an emergency) and I took them. I bought eleven books - all that would fit in the bags - feeling slightly disappointed that I'd left my canvas bags behind. Grand total for all eleven? $9.00. Here's what I got:

Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech (never heard of her, thought it looked good)
Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan (liked Bonesetters Daughter)
Snow by Orhan Pamuk (remembered one of the bloggers I read mentioned it)
Well Schooled in Murder by Elizabeth George (no explanation necessary)
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (just picked up The Blind Assassin)
Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers (love her)
Portrait of Dorian Gray (not wild about Wilde, but love this story)
The Way to Cook by Julia Child
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. II (so cool since I already have Vol. I)
Julia Child and More Company
Beard on Bread by James Beard (Baking bread is my therapy.)

Let's see. That's eleven, right? I am now a seasoned veteran of the Big Library Book Sale. Next time, I will begin training much earlier. Leg squats would definitely help. I could get down to the floor to look at books shoved under the tables, but getting up was...shall we say uninspiring...especially with an audience. Add in some bicep curls and a little endurance work - I'll be on my game -- I'll be ready -- I'll be the Beckham of the Big Book Sale.


  1. Hello. I saw that you would like an invite to the Slaves blog. I can send you one, but could you send me your email address? I can get in and send permissions, but for some reason I can't see the email addresses of people who leave comments! Thanks! Danielle (

  2. I love the Johnny Mercer connection; I can't wait to do a blog post (and maybe a concert) for his birthday. Meanwhile, congratulations on your book finds........

  3. This sounds like a wonderful event - I so wish we had library sales like that here in the UK. I can warmly recommend the Margaret Atwood, although most of the others I haven't even heard of and will look forward to learning about through your reviews!

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  5. Danielle: You should have my e-mail address now. I'm just about finished with The Post Office Girl. Hope to complete it tonight. Can't wait to hear what everyone has to say about it.

    Tinky: We love Johnny Mercer around here. Guests usually want to visit Bonaventure Cemetery, which is lovely, lush, hushed and filled with old, beautiful monuments. Johnny Mercer's grave is a favorite picture op. Looking forward to your Johnny Mercer blog post! Oh, can't wait to try the Maple Oatmeal bread.

    Litlove, perhaps you can be the first to start a trend with your local library!! Beware, though, you can get trampled if it catches on. So glad you're back from your blog rest. I really missed your blog - yours is always worth reading.

  6. I saw your comment on Debi's blog asking about Sharon Creech and Chasing Redbird. She's just a wonderful author in my opinion. My favorite work of hers is Walk Two Moons, which I've read numerous times, but I've never read Chasing Redbird. With Creech, though, I doubt you can go wrong. Have fun!

  7. P.S. Much later: Here's the link to the post about my Johnny Mercer tribute (yes, I HAVE updated in the last six months; the blog changed addresses slightly so your think hasn't been picking it up!):

    I'm having fun.....