Yesterday my BFF reminded me that the library was having it’s semi-annual used book sale. Not too far from the heart of town is a book repository of sorts where all the libraries in the county take their “extra” books.
I’m not entirely sure how a book makes it to these space. I’ve been going to this sale for years and while every now and then I get a book that has a ripped page (taped back together) or a cover starting to fall off, for the most part the books have slight wear and tear. I actually have a copy of The Ladies of Grace Adieu sitting right in front of me which I bought at last year’s sale, and aside from an old library card holder in the back and some library bar codes, I can’t find a single reason this book was withdrawn. It is in great condition. My only real guess is that at one point it had a dust jacket and someone damaged it, so they replaced this copy. Or maybe they had multiple copies and after the thrill of it wore off, they needed to make room for newer, shinier books. Who knows.
My point, is that aside from the children’s books I’ve gotten there, the ones I’ve bought have been in good shape and totally worth the $1-$2 price tag. Because the prices are so cheap and the books are so good, I usually come home with a back jammed full of fun finds, some for me, some for my son and some for my classroom.
This time around though, my bag was a bit emptier than usual. In part because I already have a stack of books I need to read and in part because I’m currently so honked off about the pay freeze and HUGE insurance hike we are going to be forced to take next year (which will actually mean I’m making less than I did this year), I sort of have a “screw anything extra for school attitude.”
But as usual, I digress.
See, despite the fact that all the shelves are bursting with books, the room that is lined with those shelves is not all that big. And, since the sale is open to the public, even arriving five minutes after the doors open means you have to elbow your way through a sea of bodies.
Since I know space is at a premium, I’ve learned to make myself as small as possible. I hug the books I’m carrying to my chest so that I don’t accidently hit people with a bag full of them. I strain my neck almost to the point of injury to see around people so that I don’t have to hover or get in anyone’s way. I go in with a list of author’s to check for and instead of looking at each book on the shelf, if I don’t see what I want, I move on.
My BFF has basically the same philosophy. Apparently though, we are the only ones who do.
The sale is a mad house. It’s not the shear number of bodies that is the problem, but rather the absolute disregard for anyone else most of these bodies seem to possess. I don’t know how many times I was hit by someone’s giant bag today (some of which were not even filled with books, but just large purses). I was bonked on the head when I was crouching to look at books on the bottom shelf. I had two different people turn quickly and swing bags into my back. I was backed into and nearly stepped on.
My personal safety aside, it also amazes me at how many people do not seem to understand the polite use of the words “excuse me.” I said it several times hoping to part bodies who were standing several feet away from the shelves they were perusing, so that I could get through. My tiny BFF was able to squeeze through a couple of the holes left (none of them, of course, budged for her at all), but as I not only just had a baby but am also naturally bigger than she was, I found myself turning around and attempting three other aisles before I could find a break in the bodies that would let me catch up to her in the nature section.
As soon as I reached her and started looking for books, I noticed an exceptionally large woman (with an even bigger bag) coming our way. She had that look of someone trying to find a way through, so I excused myself, sucked in my breath and cuddled up to the bookcase. I guess I read her wrong. Instead of moving through, she stopped, right where I had just been and decided to browse the books I wanted to look at. The worst part was that I was trapped. A small boy, who’d obviously been told to sit on one of the book shelves and not move was on one side of me and a HUGE purple bag filled with books was on the other. The gianormous woman was directly behind me, wedged in between several other people. There was no escaping until she realized they had nothing she wanted and moved on.
I also didn’t find anything in that section, mostly because the books I wanted to look at were right behind the boy sitting on the shelf and he also wasn’t moving. I finally gave up, gave my BFF a look of desperation and we both headed for the check out.
Now, I realize for a lot of people books priced between .25 and $2 are the only real chance they have to get new books to read. And while I do want to encourage everyone to read more, I wish a few of them would pick up some books on manners.