Saturday, September 27, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Treasures from the Friends of the San Francisco Library book sale:

Angels on Toast, Dawn Powell
My Home is Far Away, Dawn Powell
Second April, Edna St. Vincent Millay
The Light of Faith, Edgar A. Guest
Last Tales, Isak Dinesen
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris
Local Girls, Alice Hoffman
A Girl Named Zippy, Haven Kimmel
The Archivist, Martha Cooley

The Edna St. Vincent Millay isn't nearly as gorgeous and pristine as last year's copy of The Buck in the Snow and Other Poems, but I figure the two of them can be friends, and it can live out its golden years in peace (I bring home books the way other people bring home stray animals). The Edgar A. Guest can join them--I don't exactly know who he is (oh, now I do), but it was only a dollar and I liked the inscription on the flyleaf: "To Al, Hearty congratulations and all good wishes from the Marquarns. February third, nineteen twenty-seven."

Other than that, I'm pretty sure I didn't buy anything I definitely won't read, which is always my book-sale mantra. I was psyched about the Powells, after striking out on her last year, and I've been meaning to check out A Girl Named Zippy since I fell for The Solace of Leaving Early, and I am nearly always in the mood for the Alice Hoffman's crazy, sensuous magical realism. My relationship with David Sedaris is a complex one, full of potential and disappointment and hope and NPR, but I am feeling generous towards him these days, and am hoping for a reconciliation. And as for The Archivist, that book and I have been shadowing each other for years. I am psyched to read about love among the stacks, especially since I've always hoped to meet my dream guy when we both want to read the library's only copy of The New Yorker.

What's most interesting about the book sale, I think, is what books do and do not make it there in the first place. It's all about what people are giving away: recent book-club selections and classics they'll never read again. Last year was big for Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, which has now been replaced by Songs in Ordinary Time and an absolute heap of Jan Karon. Last year Powell was nowhere to be found; this year she practically leaped off the tables. On the other hand, I was surprised and disappointed to not find a single Jasper Fforde book lying around, nor a copy of the newest Michael Chabon (The Yiddish Policeman's Union), or even a plain old David Copperfield. They must be good--people are hanging onto them.

Now what? I guess I should go read. I've got my work cut out for me.

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