Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Happy Library Book Sale Season!

It's trite and banal, but nevertheless true,that all the Big Holidays have been corrupted by commercialism and, by the time one is my age, (43), freighted with emotional baggage. New Year's Day has been my personal favorite for the last few years since no one expects that you are going to do much of anything that day (except recover from the bigger holidays and maybe clean house). I hadn't really thought much about the failure of the regular holidays to generate much genuine happiness in me until I started thinking about how happy I felt the other day when I noticed the Friends of the Stowe Library "book sale" sign back on Main Street. Oh, hooo-rray!

OK - I recognize that a book sale appeals to what I might have to call my character flaws - books (as objects, since I can always get things I want to read out of the library), treasure hunting, bargain shopping. But it's just so fun to shop these sales. I am not even going to try to resist.

In recognition of the little thrill of joy this stirred in me, I have declared a personal holiday season; akin to the 12 days of Christmas; the Vermont Library Summer Book Sale Season. No one else I know shares my keen interest, so this is not a group holiday (at least not yet). My budget for indulging this holiday season will be less than $40. The Season extends here in Vermont from the second week of July to the first week of August.

Stowe is selling books on the porch and in the gazebo and in a tent from July 8 to August 14. Most books are $1 or $2 but you can get a bag of kids books for $3.00. Stowe has my favorite book sale. You never know what you will find on those tables - the population of Stowe, as I have noted here before, is an interesting one and the books that appear at the book sale reflect this. Last year I bought about 10 books. I kept some and sold some. (One on Cyprus fetched $50 on Ebay...). I got a calendar from around 1910 decorated with all kinds of art nouveau pictures and featuring the art treasures of the Schleswig (sp?)-Holstein area of Germany. Stowe, however, isn't the only game in town, so to speak. Every little Vermont village and burg has a library and most of them offload their discards and unusable donations at a sale held in July. The libraries use the money to buy new stuff so it's all good. The Stowe Library web site says the sale netted the library $10,000 last year.

My second favorite sale is at the Waterbury library. I spent a happy lunch hour on the back porch there this week and picked up a few little gems (all for home use, by the way). I had to stop buying because I was on foot and had to schlep the books about 3/4 of a mile back to the office. I couldn't carry all the ones I had picked out so I was forced to leave a few behind. Here are a few of the treasures I snagged this last week on the library porches. I photographed only a few to give you a sense of the range of what I found. I don't go for the newish bestsellers, though there are lots of those. Total expenditure in the realm of $20 so far.

Re: the first picture: when Kid 1 was a baby Wooolfoot Husband insisted we find and buy a copy of Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare. Out of touch with the 21st century as he sometimes is, he was dumbfounded to learn it was out of print. He ordered a "turtle back" version, which is a paper back that has been cardboardized. Not a handsome book. He has tried on a couple of occasions to persuade the kids that this book would be a positive party for them if they would read it or allow him to read it to them. Still, when I spotted this nice big new-looking hard cover (kids have not been biting for at least a generation, it appears) and the great 1960s illustrations, I had to buy it. I doubt the kids will develop an interest now but who knows...

This one just screamed "buy me!" at the Waterbury sale ($2). It's a beautiful reproduction of the famous "Tres Riches Heures de la Duc de Berry" a/k/a Belles Heures of Jean, Duke of Berry. This one was printed in 1974 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The real book is there, at the Cloisters, a place I have always meant to visit. And, as you can see (I hope you are sitting down) this book included a slip cover, and all those engravings for Cripes sake! A beauty. It must weigh four pounds. Quality. I considered leaving it on my desk but it came home with me so I could show Woolfoot Husband. I bought him a 1960s cookbook (not photographed) of famous recipes from great restaurants around the world. It was signed by the author and numbered. I looked at Addall Used Books and found that everybody's copy seems to be one of these 5,000 - but still, it was cool.

We have been visiting with our horsey friends again and Kid 1 is clamoring to recommence riding lessons. As an object, this little leather book had a certain appeal. A pocket guide that has been in some pockets. Kid 1 was happy to get it (although she was happier about the brand-new-looking paperback about Kit, the American Girl, that I picked up for 50 cents at the same time).

The Modern Library has always been appealing to me. Nice little hardcovers and I love their Art Deco Prometheus trademark. And Edgar Allan Poe - and a beautiful dust jacket. What better way to spend $2? I'll actually read some of this one.

Great '50s artwork on the dust jacket here caught my eye and we are forever wondering on our various walks and hikes around northern Vermont what kind of animal left a track (or a poo - I mean "spore" - copiously illustrated here [not photographed, thank goodness). I gave it to Kid 2 who can't read it but who is always happy to get anything.