Happiness is Books as Far as the Eye Can See

Saturday was a GREAT day.  Was it because we won $640,000,000?  No (damn it!).  It was the annual library book sale.  It is no exaggeration to say that book sale weekend is one of my most favorite times of the year.  I’ve been attending the sale for 13 years, and I always go on Saturday because I consider that day to be the book sale sweet spot: prices have dropped to make mass buying affordable ($1/paperback; $2/hardback) but the books haven’t been completely picked over (that would be Sunday when the books go for $5 a box).  I have no scientific evidence whether my theory is correct, but it makes sense to me, so I’m going with it.

Book sale!!!!

This year was bittersweet because I attended the sale solo. In past years, I attended the book sale with my partner in crime Katie (because we are uber nerd English majors), but Katie had the audacity to move to Florida last year to be with her husband (humph).  Our tradition was to hit the book sale and then have a long lunch with wine. We’ve loyally attended the sale when it was in cramped quarters downtown, in a vacated department store, in a closed grocery store (fun because grocery carts were donated for us to use and books were literally stacked in the old cases) and most recently at the fair grounds.  Last year, the sale was in a smaller exhibition building.  This year it was upgraded to a much larger building.

Saturday I walked into the new space and was immediately overwhelmed and excited at the same time.  Books were everywhere!!!  In fiction alone, there were 5 rows of books two levels deep!  Since the move to the fairgrounds, the book sale has attempted to become a family event; a band was playing while I perused, making me bop (embarrassingly) as I searched.

You might wonder what books I look for.  Fair question.  Is it Proust? Henry James? Ha. Several years ago, you could have found me in the romance section.  I was a sucker for a good historical fiction romance novel in which bodice ripping and hereditary titles were the primary components.  Now, I focus on fiction.

And it’s not  highbrow fiction.  Sure,  you can find a million copies of the last few years’ bestsellers, but what I look for are books I would like to read but don’t want to pay full price for. I have a weakness for The Da Vinci Code-type books, so I buy a lot of them at the sale.  I also like what might pass for a type of chick lit.  I’m not a snob.  I’ll read anything as long as it sounds interesting. What I love about the book sale is how it democratizes books. You can find John Grisham next to Hemingway next to Proulx.  No rhyme or reason.

After a few hours, I’m wiped and tired and ready to leave.  There are tables and tables and tables of books I have not explored, and I feel a pang of disappointment , but there is no way I can examine every book.  I pay and leave.  This year’s haul netted me 26 books for $28.  Not bad.  In previous years, paperbacks went for .50, so it wasn’t uncommon for me to leave with 40+ books.  Now that I have a very active toddler, I’m very cognizant of what I can accomplish, so I think my smaller haul is appropriate.

I’m strange (ha ha you  knew that already) in that I don’t read my new books right away.  I’m the same with gifts.  I like to let them sit for a while before I use them.  Maybe I’ll review some of the books here although I won’t be surprised if I don’t.  These books are guilty pleasures.

It was a good day.

My haul

Do you have a book sale or similar festival you attend?