I loved used-book stores, but somehow I had avoided library book sales for my entire life until last spring. I went out looking for a plant sale and stumbled upon a library book sale. The Farmer and I wandered in there and found ourselves among a horde of middle class people looking for a bargain. They came prepared with boxes and canvas bags. They had strategies in place. Couples worked in tandem to make sure they went over every book in the place. So when I started seeing signs pop up around town for the fall library book sale I immediately texted The Farmer. We were going to score some used literary gems!
During that first trip to the book sale, I looked at people piling up dozens of books in boxes and canvas bags, and imagined they lived in dark, dusty houses where the walls were taken over by sagging bookshelves. Of course this didn’t stop me from finding a pile of books of my own to buy–most importantly, a copy of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom that he wouldn’t get any royalties for. (Actually, there were multiple copies of this book at both library book sales). I also found a copy of a book I had been examining during every trip to Barnes & Noble and then not buying because I have so many unread books piled up at my house.
A week before the second sale The Farmer and I wandered in and out of stores in Northampton, including some bookstores–used and otherwise. I found several books I was thinking about buying, but I knew the library book sale was coming so I held back. As we drove to the library, I read a list of books I was hoping to find. One of which was An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser.
The sale began at 9 a.m. but we didn’t arrive until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. I’d spent the morning burying a baby bunny (long story), hanging out at the DMV helping my teenage brother getting his license, and the veterinarian’s office dealing with the fact that my dog’s face had swollen to twice its normal size. The tables were picked over and consolidated. The Farmer headed for the textbooks (because he likes to learn things) and I made a beeline to the literature table. And somehow, through the magic of the used book gods, I immediately laid eyes on a copy of An American Tragedy.
I didn’t stop there. I also got a copy of Madame Bovary, The House of the Spirits, and something called The Abstinence Teacher. Then I also stumbled across a copy of Under the Banner of Heaven, which The Farmer and I had just been discussing with friends. All in all, it was a good haul. Another successful trip to the library book sale. I got five books for $4. FOUR DOLLARS!
I love a good deal even more than I love a good book.
So here’s my advice to you, Nutmeggers: Next time you see a sign for your local library’s fundraising effort, be sure to stop. That shit is awesome.