Books have been a part of my life ever since I learned how to read. There is no greater gift than the gift of reading. So, it comes as no surprise that I simply adore library book sales; they are like treasure troves with surprises just waiting to be discovered and purchased. This past weekend was the major library book sale at the Main Branch in Memphis and I knew that I was going to be a part of the literary fray. Thankfully, my corporate job allowed us to leave early due to Memorial Day weekend, so I was able to get to the sale one day early. Forgoing my usual large bags, I drove with a quickness and a small canvas bag to the library then made my way inside to the large conference room on the ground floor. I stepped inside, smiled at the security guard at the door, then walked into the large room. Tables and shelves of books stood, ready and waiting for me to peruse and look through, all silently with spines jutting out. I walked over to one of the hardback fiction tables and placed my hand on the covers, only to swipe a book as soon as I saw it. First catch of the day within five minutes of me being there - record time. My neck stretched and arched as I tried to scan every title, hoping to see something that would stand out for me to at least pick up and thumb through. As I glanced around, I noticed others who did the same: they all had the same focused expression of their faces as they too searched for that special gem that they would take home and call theirs.
My hands found more and more treasures and soon I realized that the little cloth bag I brought with me was not going to be enough. I then spied an empty book cart with two boxes and soon, cried out in a mighty voice that the Book Hunter was now in the game! Okay, so I didn't really cry out, but I did have a wide grin on my face. I walked from hardback fiction to paperback fiction to biographies to history to literature to travel to art to religion. And back again. And back again. I tend to circle the tables like a vulture who has just seen something fall to the ground. Others had their carts and boxes as well and for a moment, I wondered if perhaps I was going a bit overboard on my book selections.
Then again, maybe not.
After an hour of walking and pushing, I made my way to the checkout and gave the library my money then left for home. I was tired, sweaty and happy.
Of course, I had to return that next day. Of course.
Saturday brought me fully prepared with two large canvas bags, good walking shoes and a sparkle in my eye and I was determined to locate even more books. I made my way back into the large room and this time, noticed the scents of paper, dust, sweat from the excited book lovers and that faint hygienic smell wafting from the air vents. In short, I was in book nirvana. This time, I circled the tables with a vengeance, plucking books that jumped out at me either by familiar titles or titles that just struck me as interesting. As I thumbed through a hardback, wondering if I really needed it (I did), I began to hear faint voices. Not the murmuring of the people around me who, as they discovered a book, would reach out with a gasp and pluck it like a ripe apple. No, these voices were faint yet driven with anxiety. Suddenly I realized - the voices came from the books! Here's some of what I heard:
"Hey, LADY! Pick me! I'm really, really interesting and will keep you up all night!"
"No, don't pick him - the author was a one hit wonder! Pick me instead! I've got SEX!"
"I come in hardback only - you'll look cool if you're seen with me!"
"Hey, I'm only 50 cents, plus I'm LITERARY! Don't go for the popular stuff; it rots your teeth like candy."
The once empty bags were now suddenly digging into my shoulders and I felt myself labouring under a weight of love; I knew soon that I would have to leave and check out. However, I kept circling the tables, hoping for that one last treasure, that one last surprise that would be a wonderful addition to my personal library. I then looked up at the clock and wondered how two hours passed; after all, I had just arrived! Thus with a sigh and a tired grin, I dragged myself away from the room of "candy" and made my way to the checkout counter, only to realize that I had picked out more the second day than I did the first. Damn.
Being a bibliophile can be quite maddening at times; the Death Star's tractor beam has nothing compared to the pull I feel whenever I walk by a bookstore or book sale. I will actually squeal if I find a used bookstore that I've never been to before and will dash in before whomever I'm walking with realizes that I have disappeared. Now that I am also an author of several titles with many more to come, I'm glad that I have joined the force of keeping people happy with the Written Word.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back finishing up my own books - an author's work is never done.