I first noticed signs for the East Greenbush library book sale about a month ago. I was pumped. Having been a writer and an unyielding bibliophile (I’ll never convert to an e-reader. Never! … Probably) my whole life, book fair weeks were some of my favorite during elementary school. Where else did a six-year-old have access to Lisa Frank erasers, the latest Babysitter’s Club Super Special (shout out to Baby-sitters at Shadow Lake and Baby-sitters’ Island Adventure) and Luke Perry posters?
I’d save my $2-a-week allowance (Back in the 90s, kids weren’t lavished with electronics and expensive gifts. And by kids, I mostly mean that I wasn’t), and spend evenings scoured over the four page sale preview leaflet students were given, circling my most desired items with a sparkly gel pen.
So as we got closer to the EG book sale, I started digging through all my novels, deciding which ones I could part with. I had two bags full of recent best-sellers that I was ready to donate. I hoped that others had done the same. It’s such a bummer when you go to a book sale and its saturated with old Harlequin Romance novels and cookbooks from 1983. (My best friend just told me that she recently found a book about First Ladies, which stopped at Gerald Ford.)
I talked about this sale for weeks. It opened at 5:00 Thursday evening. I usually leave work around 4:30 and planned on going right to the sale. When I asked The Husband if he thought there would be a line, he laughed. “Yeah, of nerds,” he said. First of all – rude. Secondly, I didn’t even care that he was picking on me. Nothing could ruin my excitement. He assured me that he didn’t think there would be anyone else there; people weren’t going to rush out of work to go to a library book sale.
Boy, was he wrong.
I got stuck in traffic (because currently, East Greenbush consists entirely of construction trucks and torn up roads, with some houses in between) and pulled into the library parking lot at 5:08. Cars were parked on the yard and lining the outer loop of the driveway. They filled every spot in the lot. I had to put my old UAlbany parking-spot-stalking skills to use just to get a space.
When I went inside, you would have thought I was at Walmart on Black Friday. It was absolutely mobbed. I was a bit taken aback and a lot overwhelmed. Having gone to the library the night before to get a sneak-peek lay of the land, I knew I wanted to go into the room on the right first, where all the newer novels were (I also studied the price list and saw that all the books were between $.50-$1. What a steal!) I made my way in and took my first right, deciding that the best course of action would be to snake around the rectangle tables filling the room, rather than mosey from table to table. Books were everywhere. The staff had tried to give some semblance of order, but there was just so many! Boxes were under tables and on top of them. I began to panic. There would be no time to leisurely flip through and read the back jacket, like I had planned. This was definitely a grab and go situation and I was not prepared.
I spent my first ten minutes smooshed up ultra-cozy with a 60+ something woman, who had three canvas bags full of books. From. the. first. table. On the other side of me was a teenage boy, grabbing up classics. I was excited to see such diversity amongst shoppers. I was also excited that I could tell The Husband that he was wrong and, indeed, there were plenty of overzealous, thrifty readers, just like myself.
I have over 100 books on my to-read list on Goodreads, so I was trying to scan titles, desperately hoping something would ring a bell. I saw a book by Kristin Hannah – True Colors. I had read one of hers, Firefly Lane, and liked it. Good enough for me. I scooped it up. “Yes!” I thought. New game plan – look for authors. I spotted a couple Jennifer Weiner books. I liked In Her Shoes and Best Friends Forever, so I grabbed Fly Away Home and Then Came You.
At this point, I had been at the sale approximately 20 minutes, didn’t even make it all the way down the first table and had started to sweat through my t-shirt. I couldn’t stop thinking about how shocked I was to see all of these people. Although I’m not usually one for small talk, I decided to chat up the woman in front of me, by remarking at the large crowd. I told her we just moved to East Greenbush in the fall and this was the first time I ever came to the spring sale.
“Oh, honey. It’s like this every year!” She told me. “I got here at 4:15 and the line outside was probably 50-deep.” (Aha! Take that, Jason!) A staff member overheard and told us that people started showing up at 2:00 with lawn chairs to claim their place in line. So, you know how twenty-year old kids will sit in line for hours to score Dave Matthews tickets? It was pretty much the same thing, except these people were hoping to grab a $1 copy of Nicholas Spark’s The Lucky One (guilty.)
Once I made my way down the first table, the traffic started to thin. Shoppers had a better view of the other, labeled tables, and were able to go to the genre they were looking for. I scored a couple finds off my Goodreads list (Lost & Found by Jacqueline Sheehan, The Murderer’s Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers, A Stolen Life by Jaycee Duggard and The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve). I also began judging books by their covers (because I don’t care what you say, old idiom, people do that). My arms were tired (Whatever. Don’t judge) from the ten books I was carrying. I was able to score a box to carry my new treasures.
Although I’m fairly certain the library was close to breaking fire code, everyone there was so friendly! “Oh, I read that! It’s one of my favorites!” I heard more than a few times. I found several copies of The Time Traveler’s Wife (my all-time favorite) and was quick to point it out to anyone around me. (I also went as far as to buy one copy for one of the volunteers cashing people out. I’m nuts when it comes to that book. Who knows how I’ll behave someday when my name is sprawled across the cover.)
Overall, I spent an hour and a half of my time and donated $17 to the library, and walked away with 18 books. I didn’t even have to feel guilty about my shopping spree, ‘cause the money was going to charity (which is what I told The Husband when he saw all that I brought home).
Right now, I’m forcing myself to finish 50 Shades of Gray (Holy bad writing, Batman. But that’s a blog entry for another day), but can’t wait to dive into my new collection. What should I start with first? What are you currently reading?