Sunday, July 26, 2009

TSS - The Library Book Sale

(click on picture to enlarge)

Another lovely summer week, and a sigh of regret as July draws to a close. Summer is, indeed, a very short season in central New York! In our town, the last weekend of July has long been reserved for the annual Friends of the Library used book sale. I spent eight years on the board (including five as treasurer) and, even after a few years off, it's still a relief not to spend the entire months of May, June, and July sorting, classifying, and pricing books. It's also a real pleasure to attend the sale as a shopper!

A new feature was added a couple years ago - a two hour Friday night preview exclusively for the Friends of the Library members! This ticket-only event (complete with wine and cheese) has proved to be wildly popular. It allows for a friendly, relaxed book-browsing atmosphere. We all know, far too well I'm afraid, the frenzy and crush of the opening hours of a used book sale. The dealers, often equipped with scanners, descend en masse and scoop up shelves of books at a time...before most of us even get so much as a glance at the titles. This evening preview says thank-you for the Friends support throughout the year.

Time was spent browsing the stacks in the library barn and under the tent. In my Booking Through Thursday post this week, I stated my preference for new books. Used books have to be in excellent condition and must pass the 'smell test'. I cannot read a musty-smelling book, and am sure I looked more than a little ridiculous smelling each book before placing it in my bag! My purchases are pictured above. You may click on the picture to enlarge the image.

Left stack, bottom up:
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale
The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Quotations
About Alice by Calvin Trillin
The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen
On Writing by Stephen King
The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Right stack, bottom up:
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Stories by T.C. Boyle
Water Music by T.C. Boyle
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Of course this is enough to last for many, many months, and I'm very excited about these finds. Have you read any of them? There is a mix of fiction and non-fiction, prize winners, short stories, essay, travel, and reference. Many of these were already on my wish list or have been favorably reviewed by fellow bloggers. The best part though, is the bottom line... just over thirty dollars!

My annual goal (resolution?) for this sale is to buy fewer books than I donate. This year I succeeded. Sometime within the next month or so, I will put a box in the back of the closet and begin collecting books for next year's sale.

Do you go to used book sales in the summer? Does your library have an annual sale, or does it have one ongoing throughout the year? What about the book dealers? I know their stock has to come from somewhere, but how do you feel about those scanners? I'd love to hear about your book sale experiences!


  1. Fantastic loot! I have read Speak and some of T.C. Boyle's stories, which were amazing. Sadly, there are no library sales and very few used book sales altogether in my country :( And even used bookshops charge something like €7-€10 for used books, which is ridiculous. Used bookshops and library sales are probably what I miss the most about the UK :P


    Sex Lives of Cannibals was so funny. I also enjoyed Gilead, and have a few others in your stack.


  3. How fabulous! I haven't intended any library sales myself but I so enjoy book markets and secondhand bookshops.

    I haven't read any of them although I was intending to read The People of the Book a couple of weeks ago; I'll return to it soon though. On Writing is a book I have had for a long time and is supposedly very good (annoyed to realise that I have left it at the parental home 400 miles away) and I love TC Boyle.

  4. I love book sales!! You took home some good ones. I loved both King's On Writing and Pillars of the Earth. Have fun reading :)

  5. We have sales throughout the year as it seems to be appropriate or necessary. I love the idea of a friends' evening though. I might suggest to our local libraries that they give their book group members first pick. It would make for a nice social evening in between meetings.

  6. What a great bunch of books you got! I hope you love About Alice (one of my favorites).

    I haven't found an McEwan book I likes (though I haven't read Chelsil Beach).

    Emjoy! And how great that you can be a buyer and not a worker for a change.

  7. I really don't like those scanner people. They really irritate me! I'm glad you were able to get a bunch of stuff beforehand. :)

  8. What fun! The Suspicions of Mr Whicher was a fantastic book, I think you'll really enjoy it. Pillars of the Earth was so good I've read it twice. On Chesil Beach is one that I'd love to read one of these days - you found some great books! You made me laugh at the sniff test, I was doing that on Friday at the two second-hand shops that I was in and hoped nobody was looking:)

  9. Oh, I absolutely love the library book sale. I was able to go to the early preview the week before I left for Asheville, and to be honest, I have no idea what I bought. It will be like Christmas when I return home and look in the bag :)

    I have already several of the books that you were able to buy, and there are several with which I am not familiar but will definitely have to check out.

    Happy reading, JoAnn

  10. JoAnn,
    this lake picture suprises me each time I come to your blog. It's so beautiful, relaxing...

    And your books look great! I've wanted to read Water Music before, hope to get it in my hands soon!

    Enjoy your reading!

  11. Cannibals have sex lives? ;)

    I'm with you, I can't stand an awful smelling book! At the same time, I doubt I'll be able to read a Kindle because I do like the smell of paper and bindings especially of a newly printed book. Go figure...

  12. That is a great haul!

    I go to book sales all year round!

    I have read a few from your list:
    The Tenderness of Wolves was OK
    The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher was excellent
    Gilead was terrible!
    So a complete range!
    I hope you enjoy them!

  13. Very nice selection! I love library sales and I admire your restraint. I bring home bags of books :P
    I've read a few:
    On Writing
    People of the Book
    Pillars of the Earth
    I enjoyed them all, Pillars was my favorite. I own a couple others you have listed but haven't read them yet.

  14. What an awesome bunch of books you selected...I've read many of these and they are all excellent!

    I always go to my library's sales...and I never go away empty handed either! I am a total sucker for book sales of any kind (and the first thing I look at in a yard sale is the books!).

    Thanks for sharing!

  15. As I write this I'm still chuckling to myself because I thought I was the only person who smelled books!! I hate that musty smell too!! I just bought 2 books Saturday from my local library and have to wait another year for the annual sale. I love it!! I'm thinking of being a friend of the library so I can go to the exclusive opening night. Your pile was fantastic!! I've read a few of them that you have...Enjoy this great haul!!!

  16. Great books and a great bargain. You definitely deserved the pleasure after such wonderful service to the FOTL. On Writing is an excellent and About Alice is very touching. How exciting to find a copy of Summerscale's book. I'm jealous. That would make a great Halloween read. Enjoy your finds:)

  17. What a great stack of books! I have actually read six of them, my favorites being Gilead, Speak and Set This House In Order.

    You are great to have volunteered for your FOTL book sale. Our library system has two sales a year and I can only imagine how much work it must be. Have a wonderful week.

  18. That is an amazing book haul! And what a lovely idea to thank the friends the night before. Nothing against the book dealer types, but I find them frequently not just on a mission but rude. So sad. Go for those T.C. Boyle stories. Maybe wait for The People of the Book. I found it technically brilliantly executed but a bit of a flat-liner experience for me. Happy reading (for quite a while)!

  19. WOW, what an awesome stash! I love the preview idea for book sales- must try that! :-)

  20. Lol! I just picked up Pillars of the Earth at the Library sale last month, too! Haven't gotten to it yet, though.

    I've read (and really loved) both Gilead and On Chesil Beach. Enjoy your books!!

    Oh and I smell them, too. All the time. :D

  21. Nymeth - I read a couple of Boyle's stories last night (just love his writing) and one of the twins has taken Speak up to her room. I'm guessing she'll start it soon.

    Diane - LOL! Sex Lives of Cannibals looks like fun and I've read so many conflicting reviews of Gilead, that I want to read it for myself now.

    Paperback Reader - I've only read The Tortilla Curtain, but I love Boyle, too! Have heard many raves about On Writing.

    Stacybuckeye - Glad to hear you liked On Writing. Pillars is a HUGE book, maybe for a nice long vacation at the beach!

    Table Talk - The Friends preview evening has been a huge success. I'm surprised more libraries don't do that.

    Beth F - It was your recent review that prompted me to put About Alice in my bag. It looks wonderful! The only McEwan I've read is Atonement and I was just lukewarm about it - we'll see abou On Chesil Beach.

    Amanda - Those scanners are a pet peeve of mine. Just loved the preview evening though!

    Darlene - Can't wait for Mr. Whicher...I was so surprised to find it there!

    Gautami - Tenderness of Wolves was a brand new hardcover - didn't even look like it had been read! I'm looking forward to it.

    Molly - Library book sales are the best. It's so good to see you back!!

  22. Ivy - Glad you like the pictures. I feel so fortunate to like in such a beautiful place! I'm looking forward to Water Music.

    Bellezza - I so agree with you! I'd miss the smell and feel of a new book if I had a kindle...but then again, it might be nice for travel.

    Jackie (farmlanebooks) - Lucky you to have book sales all year long! That would be too dangerous for me - lol!

    Icedream - So many people have raved about Pillars that I just couldn't pass up a two dollar like-new copy! I'm looking forward to that one.

    Wendy - I think I picked up at least a couple based on your reviews ;-)

    Staci - There may be quite a few of us closet book sniffers out there - lol! I think lots of people join the friends now just so they can go to the preview.

    BookPsmith - Oh good, more praise for On Writing and About Alice! I was thinking of Mr. Whicher for October (along with The Woman in White).

    Gavin - I've only seen one review for Set This House in Order, and that was some time ago. I've never noticed the book at the library or bookstore before, but the positive review stuck with me. Can't wait to read it!

    Frances - I was thrilled to find both T.C. Boyle books and have already read a couple of the stories! Not quite as anxious to read People of the Book, but for one dollar I couldn't leave it there ;-)

    Marie - I can't recommend the preview night enough. It builds lots of good will, and adds extra income, too!

    Claire - I just KNEW there had to be more book smellers out there, lol! There have been such varied reviews of Gilead, that I'm actually quite anxious to read it...especially after admiring the writing in Housekeeping.

  23. I love library book sales. I spent so much money at last years that I don't know if I'll go this year. I just can't resist books that are priced at $.50! And it can add up when you fill boxes up with those books. :-)

  24. In San Francisco, our Indian summer doesn't arrive until mid September. The Friends of the SF Public Library hosts the annual book sale at the Fort Mason in the last weekend of September. Members of Friends of SFPL would enjoy the preview day on Thursday, which I scrupulously attend to see the best selections. It's a fun outing to the pier where you can see the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Like you, I cannot read a musty book or a book that is infested with stains and highlighted pages. I tend to get distracted by weird smell and brittle pages. As to your lovely book pile, I would like to read Home, The Zookeeper's Wife and Jonathan Franzen's book. :)

  25. Wow - you got some nice books! I am a sniffer too, don't care for musty books, either.

  26. Jeanette - The prices are so irresistible that it's easy to keep adding books to the bag...but it does add up after a while ;-) Thanks for visiting!

    Matt - I always thought September was the perfect time to visit SF...but it's been many years since I've been there. Funny how the smells and stains don't bother some people - we must be more 'discriminating' ;-)

    Tara - I knew I couldn't be alone in that habit!

  27. You did very well. I have read The Tenderness of Wolves****, People of the Book****, On Chesil Beach****, The Zookeeper's Wife****, Gilead*****, and On Writing*****. They are all excellent reads. I hope you enjoy all of your finds.

  28. Sandra - I'm glad to know you enjoyed so many of the books I found! Can't wait to work my way through the stack...

  29. All hale the Library sale!!!! LOL that rhymes!

    I just went to a library sale last weekend and so I can relate toy our pile of treasures there.


  30. Sheila - Gotta love those summer book sales! Thanks so much for visiting.


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