This weekend was my city’s annual library book sale (well, there’s one in the spring, too, but that one sucks and no one goes to it). What it means is that thousands of withdrawn library books and books donated by the community get hauled into a giant warehouse-style building at the fairgrounds and put up for sale. Cheap books. Books for a dollar. The sale runs for three days, and on the Sunday anything you can cram into a plastic shopping bag is yours for three dollars.
Let me reiterate: a bag stuffed with books for three dollars.
It’s like the best garage sale ever — you have no idea what you’ll find. Some years are better than others. Having broad interests helps: you’re bound to find something. I picked up books about hypochondria, Afghan women’s rights, and disappearing languages. I got one about the Muslim middle class that may turn out to be propaganda; if it is, I’ll toss it into the recycling. When books average out to something like fifty cents, you can do that.
Every time I go it brings out my primal instincts. There’s only one copy of most titles, and you’d better hope that you’re not reaching for the same book that I am. I’ll throw elbows. I have no shame. I get tunnel vision, eyes skimming quickly over spines, heart soaring as I find that one book I’ve been looking for forever, stomach sinking as I find a pristine copy of a book I only just bought last week. It’s a huge rush if you’re a book-obsessive like me.
The score? 24 books, easily worth a couple hundred bucks, for 11 dollars. I love today.