04 March 2011

The Library Booksale: Titles and Thoughts

The spring edition was this morning, and I was there not quite at the opening, but the earliest I'd ever been there, about a quarter to ten. (It was also a first, as I wasn't sick—for some reason every time the library has a book sale, I've either had a cold or gotten there after having not eaten lunch and wandered about, stomach growling and light-headed.)

I was agog at the crowd. I have never seen that many people at the sale. Not only was it difficult to move around, but more people than ever were dragging shopping carts, those rolling boxes with handles like a suitcase, or even real suitcases (when they weren't blocking the aisle with strollers). There were many young mothers or older people there, and many were stuffing bags, boxes, and suitcases full of books, a clear commentary on the economy.

I hit the children's books first, under the same cockeyed optimism that I will find some older books as was common in the 70s and 80s book sales. Sadly, most used book stores and sales usually just have piles and piles of Babysitters Club, Goosebumps, and modern paperbacks. Unfortunately, I never do find Betty Cavanna or Janet Lambert, or Augusta Heuill Seaman, or the Scholastic Books we didn't have money for when I was in school, like White Ruff or Always Reddy. I did see a vintage bio of George Washington, but passed it up. I got one of the Katie John books, though, and a Ginnie and Geneva, and picked up Gone-Away Lake, which is a classic that I've never read. I also found a small press book that was stuck with the biographies, about a boy growing up on Martha's Vineyard.

I checked out both the hardbacks and the paperbacks in more forlorn hope that someone had discarded some of the Carola Dunn books I'm trying to find, looked over the travel, nature, and craft books, and then scoured the biographies hoping that someone had been careless and donated a copy of Colonel Roosevelt. However, I did find American Eve, the story of Evelyn Nesbit, and a biography of one of my television favorites, Danny Thomas.

There was a nice collection of Christmas books this year, half craft stuff and the other half mostly Mary Higgins Clark books, the John Grisham Skipping Christmas (which I absolutely loathed), David Baldacci's The Christmas Train (loved it), some Jan Karon. I found an interesting recipe book from the 1960s that had traditional recipes in it, like syllabub and mulled wine and other historical- or ethnic-based ones. And then a total surprise.

Many years ago in the original Atlanta Borders store I found a trade paper volume called A Worcestershire Christmas. It was short selections, photos, and drawings of Christmas celebrations in Worcestershire, England, published by Sutton. Well, here was a similarly-sized book, same format, also by Sutton, called A Surrey Christmas! I'm wondering now if there were a series of them! (OMG, just checked Amazon.co.uk—there are dozens of them, looks like for each shire in England, plus volumes like Bronte Christmas, Thomas Hardy Christmas, London Christmas, Great British Christmas, Medieval Christmas, Country House Christmas, Gilbert and Sullivan Christmas, etc. ...wow!)

Anyway, I was still poking about in the children's book area when a mom came behind me with two small kids, maybe about age four or five. The little girl had picked up a book and was trying to give it to her mother. Her mother said, "You've already read that book; I'm not buying you a book you've already read!" Not "a book you already have," but "a book you've already read." Is this not depressing? It's not like the book cost a fortune! And why should the kid not have a book she really loved and wanted to read again? I have so many books I love to re-read; they are as dear as old friends. What's wrong with buying a book that's already been read?

Later, as I was perusing the art books, a woman came up behind me with two older children, probably around nine or ten. It sounded like they were being homeschooled, because mom was looking for books about artists for the children to learn about, and when I pointed out a book about opera to her, she picked it up to check it because the children were going to see a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta soon. They were dragging a library cart behind them with an entire, fairly new set of the World Book Encyclopedia, and I wanted to give them a sunny smile and say, "Oh, what a wonderful time you're going to have with that!" I can still tilt my head to the left and see my set, the ones my mom gave us as a housewarming gift, and remember my original one from 1963 with the pebbly red "library finish" that my Cousin Eddie Lanzi sold us. I would see something on television and say, "Mommy, is that true?" and she would say, "Go look it up in the encyclopedia!" and I would. I read all the volumes through at least twice. Through its pages I visited different countries and climates, discovered the world of flora and fauna, read about scientific discoveries and literary gems—and the people who created them, got to know saints and sinners, heroes and villains.

Now I can surf anywhere and see anything via the web, but nothing will ever be quite like the magic of that first World Book!

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