The Pleasure Of A Book Sale

Yesterday I went to a book sale at my home library. It was as glorious as the summer-like weather we enjoyed. It was my first big sale in a long while.

For many years, I anticipated the book sale another local library held in the same way I eagerly awaited Christmas as a child. This sale, always the first weekend in May, was spectacular. Shelves and cartons crammed with books filled the library’s ground floor and its sidewalk (I could fill a bag with books before I even entered the building). In the main room, there was always one particular table I called “the gold mine.” Rows of paperbacks would be arranged across the table, with book-filled cardboard boxes lined up on the floor under the table. I would circle this table, grabbing titles I had always wanted to read and stuffing them in my bag. I’d move on to shelves and other tables, but would return to the gold mine four or five times, always finding a book I hadn’t seen on my earlier go-rounds.

Deep was my disappointment the year the sale was cancelled because heavy rains had flooded the room where books for the sale had been stored. A few years later, the library permanently stopped holding the sale.

Which made me very sad. I “met” a number of my favorite authors at that sale, writers who  have inspired my own work. I discovered Jan Karon and her wonderful town of Mitford on the gold mine table. Likewise Karen MacInerney and her fabulous Gray Whale Inn mystery series. I gave Stephen King a second chance when I purchased one of his many bestsellers at a sale.

Let me explain.

My freshman year in college, three friends and I went to a showing of Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of King’s The Shining. A fundraiser for the campus Knights of Columbus, the movie was shown in the group’s basement.

I hated the movie (so did King, by the way). It seemed interminable, a feeling exacerbated by my seat, a metal folding chair. Two of my friends, newly dating, started making out in the row behind me. I wasn’t so lucky to have such a distraction. I don’t remember, but that evening I may have invented the lament about time lost. I wanted my two-and-a-half hours back.

For decades I blamed Stephen King, not Stanley Kubrick, for the lousy evening. I usually don’t hold grudges for long. It’s too exhausting. But “I hated that movie The Shining, therefore I will hate every book written by King,” was my mantra for years.

Until I thumbed through a hardcover copy of Lisey’s Story at a 2008 library sale. It looked interesting. For a buck, what did I have to lose? I could always donate it to the next year’s sale. I bought the book and read it at Halloween that year.

I loved it. I was a convert. A new fan. I still have the book.

My profuse apologies to you, Mr. King.

Such is the power of the book sale.

I made out like a bandit at yesterday’s sale. Life stories, longtime favorite authors, a couple of new-to-me authors, and some books for my sister. Here’s a shot of my haul, which filled three bags:

Notice the two Stephen King books? The love continues.

I was thrilled to scoop up several of Daniel Silva’s novels. A couple of years ago I plucked his Fallen Angel off the library’s small, year-round sale shelf and was hooked on the series starring Israeli spy Gabriel Allon from its opening pages. I’m also making my way through Leslie Meier’s Lucy Stone cozy series and so was delighted to pick up four of her titles at the sale. I’m betting Laura Childs’ Cackleberry Club will become another favorite series once I read Scorched Eggs. How can you go wrong with a name like Cackleberry?

With three new cookbooks, I’ll have plenty of snacks to enjoy with my reading. Though I’m not much of a cake eater (I’m a dedicated cookie girl), I’ve wanted to take a shot at baking a cake from scratch for a while. I have no excuse now that I have Rose Levy Beranbaum’s bible on the subject. I doubt my family will mind sampling the results of my endeavors.

My ninety minutes at the sale added up to a great mix of books. All for twenty dollars!

How about you? Are you a fan of book sales? What authors have you discovered while perusing tables, shelves, and cartons packed with books?

By the way, though I’m not a fan of The Shining the movie, its source material is one of my favorite King novels. Its sequel, Doctor Sleep, is equally fantastic.

Have a great week!

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