Book Sale Lessons

Book Sale Lessons

It came out of the blue—at least for me.

The return of our library’s book sale.

What bliss!

In years past, I’d spend hours (sometimes spread across multiple trips) scouring this sale. Adding to my To Be Read (TBR) Piles. Adding to my grandmother’s TBR Piles. Looking for gems to flip on eBay (those were few and far between… too many sharks in that pond beating me to the punch). Looking for unusual and out-of-the-box homeschool must-haves.

On several occasions, the ladies at the checkout would say, “That’s the one. Get ready.” And they’d clear a space for me to bring my finds so I wouldn’t herniate four discs lugging around my treasures.

Before the sale, the wonderful Friends of the Library volunteers would lug and tug and pull gobs of boxes—and I do mean gobs—of donated books, set them up on tables in the two entryway hallways of the library, and watch people crawl/dig/sort/claw through the madness. It’s quite cramped and one of the only few activities I’ll subject myself to where there are way too many humans per square foot. Comicons are another where I’ll tolerate a crowd.

Other kinds of crowds often contain awful bits of humanity and this introvert would rather not, pandemic or not, thank you very much.

And, unfortunately, that tiny space and the crowd that crams it full is why 2020 didn’t happen—at least I don’t think it did. At least it didn’t happen in my head because I would’ve skipped it in the spring of 2020, and in the fall of 2020, the cases in our area were tanking hospital resources and our own family was hard hit by that wretched bug.

If they brought it back in the spring of 2021, I wasn’t aware. That was another dark, dark time and I either missed the announcement or the sale was still off.

But this year, I was driving to the grocery store on a rare day when I was going in person to buy bread and toilet paper, and an even rarer day when I hadn’t managed to make the 8:00 time slot where most of the town is still in bed or just waking. (See, crowds in the grocery store, no thanks.) But despite my lateness, the sky was clear and blue and beautiful, and I passed a sign at the park.

The park!

That the library book sale was in one of the 4H buildings. Large, open space. High ceilings and gobs and gobs of elbow room.

I may have screeched the brakes a bit on the SUV (don’t tell the Hubs) and tossed a few bits of gravel pulling down the lane to the sale. Little Miss Muse accompanied me on this trip to ensure I replenished her grape soda and lavender nail polish (muses care very little about supply chain issues—they want what they want, when they want it). She went flying hard into the passenger windshield – I’m still dabbing up glitter from the impact.

“A little warning next time.”

“Wear your seatbelt.”

“It’s not even garage sale season yet.” She brushed her tutu and straightened her bent right wing.

I ignored her whining, parked, and went in. The building is slightly more than a metal pole barn—cement floor, high metal roof, plumbing and electric, but cool despite the industrial sized heaters hanging from the ceiling. 

The tables were spread everywhere. Books and boxes everywhere—some of the tables were sagging and complaining. Only a few browsers were shopping. A few ladies were working the checkout and condensing and sorting the piles.

It took me a minute to figure out who was shopping and who was working—because, let’s face it, if you’re a Friend of the Library, you’re likely a lover of books and cannot help yourself from creating your own TBR stacks.

Little Miss Muse fluttered and flitted from one end of the building and then back to me. “Where do we start? Hurry up because they’ve got no concessions here.” She grabbed her poofy stomach as if she’d not eaten in days and would starve in the next five minutes.

“We start at the beginning and work our way through the tables.”

“All the tables?”

“Yes. All the tables.”

She rolled her eyes, muttering something like, “You don’t even have a book in these piles. You won’t sit down long enough to finish—” I flicked her rear and she stopped. My periodically lengthy procrastination due to trauma, drama, and illness was not up for discussion. Not here.

I did a cursory sweep, getting the lay of the land, noting where to spend more time. Picking up a few books here and there and slipping them into my tote. Slipped one under my arm like a lucky charm… (no judgment now, this is my thing. You have your thing.)

Then I shopped in earnest. Three hours? I think. I lost track of time. I didn’t feel the seconds. I didn’t check my phone. I just zoned out of the world and into the sale. (Similar sensations come over me in Half Price Books, which is why I don’t shop Half Price Books when I’m with other people as it would be downright rude…)

I think Little Miss had three strokes and a cornonary, just sure that the grocery would be all out of bubble gum and nail polish by the time I got done at such a late hour. I crammed that tote full of TBRs. Even started a “bonus” pile up at the checkout. Found favorite authors. New-to-me authors. Series runs.

I have a few cool anecdotes that came out of our time spent at the sale. I’ll save one of those for next week.

In the meantime, here are some important Lessons from the Book Sale that I jotted down, just to keep me fresh and on my toes for that next glorious event:




Always keep a large reusable shopping bag in the car for unexpected book sales or that random garage sale that may also have books.

Tattered copies are to be considered. Tattered means someone—or more than one someone—cared enough to read the book through. Or. Or. They had a cat with a vicious vendetta against all things shelved. Either way. Spine damage doesn’t bother me when I’m just looking for a good tale.

Books don’t go bad. A good story 50 years ago is still a good story now. Maybe better…

You find your tribe at a book sale. Fellow booklovers searching for their TBRs and other fun surprises. Fellow booklovers helping you search for your TBRs. Everyone searching for everyone else’s TBRs. Folks joining in the melee of yelling out authors and titles and subject matter to be on the lookout for.

You find lost friends at a book sale. A former neighbor works the sale. I also got to catch up with the mother of my childhood best friend.

Tell your Muse to buckle up, buttercup. And be prepared for sudden stops.

Enjoy the moments when you can. You never know when the next shut-down, life roll, or business model implosion will take away or delay one of your favorite things.

Groceries can wait. Who needs groceries? (Little Miss would like to add here that all humans need groceries, and all muses need their fixes and to ignore that part about groceries.)

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