21 May 2018

annual book sale "haul" and other recent purchases

My small town holds a big book sale every year. It's a major, MAJOR event, and every edition makes the news with a "can you believe how many people came?" report. Given that three of the handful of local bookshops have closed in the recent past, it's not exactly surprising that this sale proves so popular.

The building's doors open at 8:30 AM, which means that the really dedicated folk who want to be first in line have to queue outside, no matter the weather. (I arrived around 7:30 AM and there were already about 50 people in line.) The ones at the very front always come prepared, with camping chairs, thick blankets, a thermos of coffee and a box of donuts. I only brought a bottle of water and (as experience has taught me) my trusty mp3 player so I wouldn't have to listen to the conversations around me.

When the doors finally opened, there was a collective groan of relief as we made our way inside and felt the heated air surround our frozen limbs. Next year, I thought, I'm definitely wearing thermal underwear... As usual, the books were placed on long tables divided into categories, but I barely registered my surroundings while I made a beeline for the English section near the very back of the large, echoing hall. Disappointment #1: there were only a couple of tables of English books this year... Ah, but I almost immediately spotted The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen, which I'd been planning to buy — a good start. However, after I'd gone through all the books once came Disappointment #2: when I managed to sneak a look under these tables, I noticed that instead of full boxes waiting for volunteers to unload them as space cleared on top, there were only empty ones... I'd planned to spend a good portion of the morning at the sale, taking a breather after each round, waiting for the gaps to be refilled with fresh books before having another browse. As it was, I spent barely 45 minutes inside, most of it trying to avoid elbows and backpacks, and found only 4 books that interested me. Alas, there were lots of Stephen King and Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child novels this year, some cookbooks, very few classics, a couple of scuffed poetry anthologies, and more children's books than I remember ever seeing.

But it wasn't a complete waste of time. I've had my eye on that Tess Gerristen novel for quite a while, so that's a plus. I've never read anything by Salman Rushdie, and after hearing Sophie Carlon enthuse about him, this will be a good opportunity to find out if he's to my liking as well. The Michael Ondaatje book about his family looks very interesting (and by the way, I can't wait to get my hands on his latest novel, Warlight, especially since listening to his interview on The Next Chapter [link]). As for The Pillars of the Earth, I'll probably save it for the end-of-year holidays.


But that's not all! Running errands this weekend, I treated myself to a browse in the only local store that has a decent selection of new books in English. I managed to exercise self-control and purchased only one, The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne (but I may have added a few DVDs to my basket: all 3 seasons of Broadchurch and the third Millenium movie).

I also had a bit of an e-book buying spree recently: The Humans by Matt Haig; The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller; The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay; The Small Hand by Susan Hill; Elmet by Fiona Mozley; The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch; The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert; and  The Bird's NestThe Sundial and Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson.

I might need to take a month's vacation this summer...

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