Our local public library has a quarterly book sale, and this time around I not only remembered to put it on my calendar – we even remembered to go!
I love library book sales, don’t you? There was an epic (semiannual?) one at the library where I lived in Virginia – they had twenty-five-cent paperbacks and signed first editions, and everything in between. It would go on for a whole weekend – Friday evening was for “friends of the library” only, Saturday was for everyone, and Sunday everything was discounted. For three book-loving gals in a little two-bedroom apartment, it was a dangerous place.
This one was more unassuming – it started with just a few dozen boxes of paperback fiction on folding tables outside a little outbuilding. But there was more! The books went through the building and then outside again. A lot more to look at than we initially realized, which was exciting.
Anyway, we stayed long enough for me to get a sunburn on the back of my neck from leaning over the tables of books, and for us to walk away with this haul (rarely do I spend money so calmly as when buying used books!):
More than 60 books, mostly children’s hardbacks, all for a grand total of $21.50.
(I tried to tell the woman that I wasn’t ready to check out yet – that I wanted to go through my piles again and make sure I really wanted everything, since some were more expensive (ie, a dollar instead of fifty cents) than others. She whispered, “We’re going to give them all to you for twenty-five cents.” I’m not sure if she liked us, or if the stacks of books I kept leaving on the cart next to the check-out table were just big enough for her to want to streamline the process.)
My goal for the day was to build our collection of children’s books – it’s amazing how quickly (in the last few months) I went from:
“Oh, I don’t need to worry about kids’ books yet – there’s plenty of time!”
“Oh my goodness, Pippo is almost four months old and we have hardly anything for him to READ!”
Or something like that.
I think that being at my parents’ house and seeing their (amazing) collection of books reminded me of how important that family library was to my childhood. I want the same thing for my children! I know we have time, but the sense of urgency comes in part from the knowledge that so many of the books dear to my heart are old and no longer in print, or the newer versions are not as pretty as the old ones. And granted, this is coming from someone who, as a child, would regularly refuse to read a book because I didn’t like the illustration on the cover, but I truly believe that good books should look like they’re worth reading.
Anyway, can I show you some of what we found?
Our town library where I grew up had a little branch in the converted carriage house of the beautiful 19th century town mansion. It was within walking distance of our house, and we would walk or ride our bikes there all the time. Especially on hot summer days, when we would stay for hours, reading and enjoying the only air conditioning within hailing distance.
The librarians knew our names, and all the picture books were bound like these. I had a hard time resisting them. Even the ones I’d never heard of. As I told the Lt, “I trust the binding!”
I don’t think I’d thought of the Anatole books since I was a kid, but as soon as I saw this one I got excited. Did you ever read about Anatole? He’s a mouse who’s a professional cheese taster in France, and he’s delightful.
There were several of these Veronica books. I think I read them at one point, but don’t remember them well, to be honest. But I find the illustrations very appealing.
Similarly, I will buy anything that illustrated by Tasha Tudor (even something entitled “Wings from the Wind” which, frankly, sounds a little cheesy). Her drawings are so simple and yet detailed in a way that invites inspection and delight.
Another book that I don’t remember having read myself, bought on the strength of its illustrations and the fact that it involves a lion and a hot air balloon. I can’t argue with that.
The Lt was very excited about these, which are favorites of his. I hadn’t read any Joan Aiken until after we got married (I considered the cover illustrations of the ones we had creepy in an uninteresting way), when he reminded me that once, maybe 8 years ago, he read a children’s book that I loved, and I had promised to read one of his. So I read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, and loved it.
Hardcover copy of one of the Chronicles of Narnia? I’m on it.
How about Laura Ingalls Wilder? Ditto.
I don’t remember specifics of any of Rumer Godden’s books about dolls (that doesn’t sound very interesting on the face of it), but I remember reading a bunch, and loving them. I found two, both with cute vintage-y covers.
I couldn’t remember what else Carol Ryrie Brink had written, but I knew it was good, so I popped this one on the pile. (Turns out I’d been thinking of Caddie Woodlawn – I knew I liked her!)
Of course there were lots more books, but these were some of the cutest, I think.
(Since I know you’re worried about whether our current bookshelf space will be adequate to handle the new additions, let me set your mind at ease:
No, it is not.
We can get the “grown-up” books in on the shelves we have now, but we’re going to need more room for our kids’ books. But that’s ok. We knew that would happen. It’s all part of life for book-loving folks.)
Do you have any library-book-sale tips for me? Do you judge books by their covers, the way I do, or do you have a different and/or more scientific way of honing in on the good ones?