Saturday, September 29, 2007

The spoils of victory

From the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library Annual Big Book Sale:

The Annotated Alice, by Lewis Carroll (intro and notes by Martin Gardner)
Amsterdam, by Ian McEwan
Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner
Winner of the National Book Award, by Jincy Willett
The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Buck in the Snow and Other Poems, by Edna St. Vincent Millay
A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, by David Foster Wallace
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, by Michael Chabon
The Best of Adair Lara (for my mother)
Love, Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli (for a friend)

Being a book vulture is hard work, you guys. So much standing! So much scanning of tables and tables and boxes and boxes of books! Everything was organized by genre but not by author, which was doable for everything but fiction--thousands of volumes, completely at random. There was also a surprising lack of pre-1970s 20th-century fiction, which is my favorite book-sale genre; we seemed to skip from around Anna Karenina straight to the Oprah period. It was surprising. I guess that's the stuff people give away, though: classics and pop lit they're never going to read again (SO many copies of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason!). I also didn't see a single copy of David Copperfield, which isn't 20th-century, obviously, but I was looking for it just the same.

I'm pretty pleased with my takings, though, especially the Edna St. Vincent Millay--it's a perfect, clean little hardback from 1928, clearly old but not cheesy. I love it. I was in the poetry section looking for that bright pink book of Pablo Neruda's love poems--you know the one I mean? I've been eyeing it for years but I'm always a little embarrassed to buy it, being...a bright pink book of Pablo Neruda's love poems--and there it was. I also ditched quite a few books I was on the fence about, but I feel pretty confident about what actually made it into the final collection.

Books aside (!), today was essentially the perfect day in San Francisco. I get that California doesn't have seasons like other places have seasons, but I wish everybody could experience October in the Bay Area just once, just to see how fantastically beautiful it is--we don't really have the changing leaves, but there's a quality to the light and the air that is clear and warm and golden and just about perfect. After the sale, my friends and I went next door to Greens for lunch, and the Golden Gate Bridge was right there, and the water was all green and Alcatraz looked like it was within spitting distance (not that anybody spits at Greens; it's genteel like that). You couldn't make up San Francisco in the fall. Or the "fall." Whatever you want to call it.

Now I'm going to go make some shelf space for the new collection. Welcome, books!

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