Used Book Sales

I have an addiction. The addiction is books.

I have shelves (and even floorspace) full of them. It’s difficult to walk into a bookstore without buying a book. Trying to get myself back to a level of financial sanity, I now browse without buying. Walking into a used book store is difficult, but I am getting better. Going to a used book sale, however, is the biggest temptation of all.

Once in a while, though, it’s worth visiting that deep-seeded desire and giving in to the temptation. Twice a year, there are two local used book sales where I can find all my heart’s and mind’s desire. Each spring, the Friends of the Library hold their annual used book sale as a fundraiser for the library. The library lobby and meeting rooms are crammed with tables and boxes full of books, mostly categorized but still in a delightful jumble for browsers hoping to come up with hidden treasure. In the fall, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) hold their fall used book sale to raise money for student scholarships.

About a month ago, I was done with work early on a Friday afternoon and headed to the AAUW book sale to browse. I spent $21 and come with a pile of books longer than my arm. I stuck mostly to the nonfiction side and what I bought not only spoke to my interests, but provided an insight into my psyche. An interesting activity, no? Read someone’s book titles instead of reading their tea leaves. Some of my picks are a bit prosaic, but maybe that means I now have a clearer direction.

Here are the ten books I brought home and what I think they mean.

1. The Portfolios of Ansel Adams – I was excited to find this paperback of black & white photos. I am seeking beauty in my life and trying to return to my roots and hope. I think this book speaks to the pursuit of beauty and gives me inspiration to create beauty and to find it not only in the panoramic vistas, but also in the scenery of everyday life.

2. How To Write a Children’s Book and Get It Published – This one is pretty obvious. I have always secretly desired to be a writer and the thought of writing a children’s book has creeped in more and more lately. I hope to get tips from this book, but also to actively begin writing something for children.

3. The Superior Person’s Book of Words – I love dictionaries and this is a tongue-in-cheek pick. In returning to my love of writing and words, this seems like a great choice, but I also appreciate the author’s humor and will enjoy looking up occasional words for fun and conversation.

4. Singer Sewing Book: The Complete Guide to Sewing – In the spirit of returning to old hobbies and wishes, I really would like to learn how to sew and use my machine and hands to be crafty sometimes. The wonderfully retro cover and back page with some groovy fabric swatches makes me think of the fun one can have returning to the “domestic arts.”

5. Career Tests: 25 Revealing Self-Tests to Help you Find and Succeed at the Perfect Career – I feel like I have not been very deliberate in my career in the 13 years since college. I love what I do now, but I really want to take control of it and find a way so that my talents are serving a greater purpose. Plus, I love quizzes and self tests.

6. Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House by Valerie Plame Wilson – Every once in a while I like a good thriller, but I’ve been wanting to read more about this real-life story. I know bits and pieces of the story as it relates to the headlines of the last seven or eight years, but I can’t wait to read her account. Two more reasons I can’t wait to read the book: she now lives in New Mexico and I’ve never read a book that has parts blacked out by the CIA. Really.

7. Find a Husband After 35 – This was the book I was most embarrassed about having in my hands when I was paying for my books at the end of the sale. It seems a little funny, like The Rules which was so popular at the end of the nineties/beginning of the millennium. In the spirit of trying to take control of my life instead of passively falling into things, it seems that I should pursue that in all facets of life, including romance. If and when I’m ready to find a husband . . .

8. Twelve Extraordinary Women – This book is all about women of the Bible, a part Bible study and character study, I look forward to this one. I have always liked the stories of the Bible and biography, but don’t always want to dig deeper into the larger meanings and I hope this book will help in the first steps of that path.

9. Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy – I was looking for a daily devotional guide and found this. There is a quote and essay for each day of the year, and while not quite a devotional, I love the “comfort and joy” in the title. I love the Christmas carol with “Oh tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, comfort and joy”. When I can find comfort and joy, I can help to make it for others and move forward.

10. The Invisible Pyramid by Loren Eiseley – I discovered Loren Eiseley in my nature writing class in college and fell in love. When my mentor Clayton mentioned his love of Eiseley, my own love was cemented. I find that I wish to be a writer like Eiseley and I love how he seeks the deeper questions. The subtitle to the book is “A naturalist analyses the rocket century” and with my daily struggle with technology, maybe I can find some direction and inspiration from Eisely. Plus, isn’t that one of the most beautiful names ever? It’s quiet and soft and wise, much like I imagine Eiseley.

10 books, 10 paths, 10 threads. A direction, a hope.

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