Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Really Good, Really Big, Really Cheap Book Sale

Guess what greeted us early this morning.

Nothing like an empty pig pen and a gaping fence to get you running to the woods with food in hand.The pigs had just let themselves out for a little jaunt and early morning chat with the next door horses.

I lured them back in and fixed the fences while Matt held the donkey (she's not a lot of help when it comes to fastening fences). The pigs expressed their gratitude by pressing wed, muddy noses into my leg. I had time only to sponge clean my pants before rushing off to work, and I keep discovering dirt in the creases of my pants. This farm life, seriously.

A couple weeks ago, The Greenville Literacy Society held it's annual Really Good, Really Big, Really Cheap Booksale.

This sale has been going on for fourteen years, but we had never been. I don't really know why. Probably in part because we both hate crowds. The older I get the more I just really like my own living room. With the two of us in it.

Also, I wasn't sure what to expect. I had heard these books sold for $1 each. Were these ratty, falling-apart copies that no one wanted? Would they be completely picked over by the time we hauled ourselves out of bed and showed up? 

But we are on the hunt for books on gardening and farming, so we got up, drove the thirty minutes to "the big town," to see what it was all about.

From the get-go we knew we were in over our heads.  Everyone - I mean literally everyone - was carrying some kind of conveyance into the sale. Matt and I were strolling down the sidewalk hand in hand, and we started to notice that the twenty or so people walking in with us were carrying canvas bags, boxes, little carts, and backpacks. Some people wore backpacks and carried a box. Others had carts stuffed with canvas bags. An older man had a bag slung over the handle of his walker.

"Are they going to even let us in without a bag?" I whispered frantically to Matt.

"I don't know," he said. "Good thing you have a big purse."

Inside, we started to understand the need for the bags. Row after row after row (after row after row) of books ranging in price from $0.50 to $5.00 were crammed on to tables. Some were brand new, and the used copies were so gently used it was almost impossible to tell. The tables full of books went so far back into the convention hall that you couldn't even see the end of the display from the front. 

We had come in the wrong end, so we pushed our way through all the fiction browsers, and started to load up in the home and garden section.

All things considered, the event was very well organized, and as long as we didn't try for a spot at the 50 cent table, the crowds weren't too bad either.

For $26 we got 22 books. Not a bad haul. And thankfully they anticipated newbs like us and had a stack of bags we could pick from. Phew.

No need for a cart when you have a Matt

Here is some of what we left with:

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See // A coworker recently told me this was her favorite book, so I picked it up. I don't actually know much about Chinese culture, so I'm excited to read something outside my usual realm of food writing, memoirs, and modern woman's lit.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion // I had read that this was a book every writer should read, so it's been on my mind to read it for a while. Of course, when I got home there was already copy on my shelf, so I'll be gifting a copy to someone soon.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi // I've been curious about this one ever since it came out to mixed reviews in 2008. This is my chance to review it for myself, I guess.

The Amateur Marriage and A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler // By this point, I was just following people around and picking up anything they pointed out to their friends and said "oh this one was good!" The woman next to me picked these up and said "Anne Tyler is great if you like southern fiction." Do I like southern fiction? I'm about to find out.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden // I loved this book, but lost my copy years ago. Thrilled to be able to replace it for $1.

The Poinsonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver // I've been enjoying Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, so I thought I'd give her fiction a whirl. There is so much you can learn about someone by the way they write fiction.

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova // If you have not read Still Alice by Lisa Genova, go buy it and read it immediately. It is still one of my favorite things I've ever read. Lisa Genova is a neuroscience and she writes fiction about people suffering from different neurological diseases. Still Alice is about a professor with early onset Alzheimer's disease. The way the author makes you feel the spiral is absolutely mesmerizing. I'm sure she handles Huntington's disease in Inside the O'Briens deals with the same deftness and empathy.

The Blind Side by Michael Lewis // Confession time: I never saw the movie Blind Side. But I'm a huge sucker for memoirs, and after all the positive reviews that movie got, I had to pick this up.

With Bold Knife and Fork by MFK Fischer // Food writing. MFK Fischer. Hardcover. One dollar. Done and done.

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt // Another I've wanted to read for a while.

John Adams by Frank McCullough // We liked the miniseries so much we watched a some of the episodes a couple times. The chance of me actually slogging through this - maybe 5%. But I'm enthusiastic and whoever inherits all our stuff one day will get a copy of what is undoubtedly a really good book.

We did manage to find this cool book on edible landscapes. I am particularly fond of any book with diagrams.

I looks like Amazon has a new edition of this book, which is piquing my interest. It would certainly be interesting to see what has changed between now and the original 1982 print date.

So there you have it. Our haul from the book sale. I'll let you know if any of the books we bought are any good. Have to finish Anna Karenina first, though!

Do you buy used books? What's your favorite way to find new stuff to read? Tell us all about it!

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  1. I feel your pain regarding pig farming. My daddy had pigs for a while but oh the smell and the aggravation led us to go to just cows and chickens. ( But that pork did taste good come butchering time!) When I was a very little girl, I can remember the men in the family butchering the hogs in the fall, rather like Laura Ingalls Wilder's depiction in the Little House in the Big Woods. And books....oh my, I can see why people are so excited. Our library has a book sale room maintained by the friends of the library and I have to stop and browse every time I go to the library. I love Lisa Genova's books. Left Neglected is my favorite. I was not as pleased with Inside the OBriens. I love the picture of Matt with his pretty bag full of books.

    1. Two pigs don't smell too bad (yet?), but I'm about ready for them to go in the freezer. ;) I haven't read Left Neglected yet, but I added it to my Amazon list. I'll let you know what I think of Inside the OBriens. I love that picture too!


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