Yes, your book hunter returns victorious from the field of battle! No one died! At least…not that I know of!
For those who’ve forgotten (or are new–hello! How are you? How lovely of you to join us!) we’ll review the Rules of the Game.
Twice a year, once in spring and once in fall, bookmarkedone’s local library hosts an Epic Library Sale where books, games, puzzles, journals, ancient tomes, CDs, DVDs, and possibly ancient arcane knowledge muddled into the YA dragon book stack are spread out on tables in an enormous warehouse in the fairgrounds. Their prices are low enough to arouse suspicion. Etiquette is simple:
- Opening night is welcome to Friends of the Library only.
- The books from the Better Books are not allowed to mingle with books from Cheapside. If you browse in Cheapside, your selected Better Books must stay behind the lattice walls. In Book Parking. Pensive. Waiting. Safe. Until you return.
- Think twice about bringing anything other than cash you’re willing to spend (you will spend it all. You will).
- Be nice to the volunteers. They’re volunteers. They look like a loud sneeze could knock some of them over, but they could still probably take you out with a large encyclopedia or the arcane knowledge they have learned from wandering a lifetime among those shelves. Are they wizards, some of them? Maybe. We don’t know. We don’t ask.
- Books are sorted by genre…more or less.
- Don’t try to escape with a box. You will be found. You will be stopped.
- You have three hours. Good luck.
The Epic Library sale is a holiday. Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday, Huzzah for Dragonfest, and Yey it’s Booksale.
We take this event very seriously. In other words? The game is on.
Now keep in mind that at 5:00 p.m. exactly, a queue has formed. The eroding parking lot is being recklessly filled. The bookworms are emerging from their nooks, crannies, bookshelves, dragon hoards, towers, garrets, hobbit holes, haunted manors, and corners of the Goblin Wood. We are here. In force. Today’s the day.
So while it’s great fun and we’re all friendly to each other (as friendly as a massive pack of nerdy introverts can be), the Game is On.
There’s a smidge of energy in the air.
Just a smidge.
Alternatively…I’m not sure exactly how this came about–some odd combination of overheard conversation on the floor and laughing later that night–
There’s an old superstition you’ve probably heard that you can predict the coming winter by the stripes on a woolly bear caterpillar’s coat. In the same tone of voice and nodding, cottage-mother confidence, a friend overheard two ladies chatting at the sale about how many people had turned out and how that many nerds scarfing books into their totes most assuredly must indicate a cold winter coming.
At this point in the story retelling, I was at home in comfy clothes eating pickles.
I started laughing. Tired brain made the connection and filled in the rest.
Because woolly bear caterpillars must buy books and puzzles for the long winter ahead.
(cue bookmarkedone begging any and all artsy friends to draw a fuzzy caterpillar happily pushing a cart full of books because I can’t draw but it’s too good a thought).
We don’t really talk to each other when we’re In the Mode searching for books, but there was one point when I was browsing the literature table, British gentleman with a couple of tote bags by his feet to my left, friendly lady across the way, and me the little book goblin wearing my hooded Vest of Many Pockets, that we started joking about getting extra points just for browsing the classics. I was listening and reading titles at the same time, so I’m not entirely clear on everything that was said, but I’m pretty sure I heard the woman ask “Is this highbrow?” “Don’t know…” “There’s a brow.”
And then I made off with a collection of Norwegian fairytales and the complete Andersen stories.
Don’t worry. I left some books for the two of them.
There were actually a lot of “sound bites” I caught myself smiling at.
I didn’t set out to eavesdrop.
But when a couple swings past right in front of you and the girl calls over her shoulder, “That was before I quit the math major,” well…that’s pretty hard to miss.
Especially since she sounded so happy about it. But I think the guy’s answer was even better.
He said, “I know.” There was a pause, and then, “I’m very proud of you, for quitting the math major.”
I’m just going to clarify two things here:
- No offense is intended to successful math majors. You guys are wizards. Go. Be cool. You’re just wow.
- If you’re going to not just any book sale, but an Epic Library Book Sale and facing the challenge it presents as a date night, you’re doing it right. There are some whose relationships would not survive that test.
But we didn’t go all the way to the sketchy side of town and under the creepy bridge to the fairgrounds just to people watch.
We went for books.
So look at my beauties!
Allow me to introduce you to:
The Complete Illustrated Stories of Hans Christian Andersen
Very heavy. Snatched from the aforementioned literature table. Did you know the Little Mermaid had a garden of red flowers? Did you? Of course I could have downloaded an eBook version for free online since it’s Very Public Domain.
But it wouldn’t be the same.
Norwegian Folktales, as told by Asbjørnsen and Moe
Already had East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon, so I am aware there might be some overlap…but when it comes to fairytales, I am weak.
Into the book buggy it went.
The Sagas of Icelanders, as prefaced by Jane Smiley
I’m having a hard time believing that Andersen’s is longer than this one. It’s gigantic. Goodreads claims it’s roughly 200 pages shorter…maybe it’s the subject matter that’s more intimidating. The lack of pictures? The Puffin Classics edition that so clearly means business?
It’s been a while since I read the Longest Lay of the Volsungs, but I’m not sure it’s ever completely left my mind. For a while, I was just bumping around the warehouse with those three books.
I may have alarmed my company at the literature table with my taste.
The crown jewel of the collection?
The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley
It is beautiful. It is sadly worn. It is floral print on the cover with gold flowers on the spine. It is disheveled and stained, gilded and yellowed just enough to be perfectly at home in my hands, tucked next to my heart.
Look at my book.
Yes, I’m going to have a time finding the exact edition on Goodreads. The daunting quest has already begun.
So while I was there for books, I also have to feed my worrying writing habit.
The journals were next.
It was packed on the aisle with the journals. Before I got there, one of the volunteers saw an abandoned stack of books and went into full hands-on-hips-I’m-laughing-but-also-if-I-find-the-person-who-made-extra-work-for-me-they-will-be-sorry.
One must question the type of person who abandons a stack of books. Mysterious circumstances? An emergency? A tragic falling out with your book-buying buddies? A natural villainy and desire to thwart the work of the volunteers?
We cannot know. We can only wonder, pull our little book cart away from the crime scene and chant softly in our minds do not annoy them we do not ask if they are wizards.
I buy too many journals. In my defense, I do use them.
I also have no idea what fandom this book is from. I feel a little like I’m posting a Missing Person ad–do you know this child? Does he belong to your fandom? Could you direct me toward the book series, please?
The decision process wasn’t difficult. Textured cover. Grey lined pages. Loops on the outside well suited for a padlock. Dragon on the front.
Into the buggy.
I also picked up The Unicorn Journal II, which is going to take me a while to actually use…it’s got beautiful illustrations faded into the background of every page. I feel like it needs to be fiction, a story draft that really suits it.
I’ll come up with one. It just might take some time.
Any other finds?
Really. I was just getting started.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
Compared to Les Miserables, it looks small. I can do this, right? I can do this.
Gifts by Ursula K. LeGuin
(happy chanting LeGuin, LeGuin, LeGuin even though I still am missing the middle book in the trilogy)
Invictus by Ryan Graudin
…which I know nothing about and it might be rubbish but I saw time travel, gladiator, and futuristic sci-fi in the same blurb and had to take the risk…
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Decided to take a chance on it after getting the entire plot of Cinder spoiled in SciFi Writers’ Week panels. She’s clever. Will it be too YA for my taste? Maybe. But it’s Wonderland. How could I refuse?
Reckless: The Golden Yarn by Cornelia Funke
Has silk bookmark. Hardcover. And it’s Cornelia’s label. Breathing Books.
Reckless: The Petrified Flesh by Cornelia Funke
(tries not to fangirl over Cornelia)
So the Reckless series has always been a little tricky for me to follow, and now I find this is the first book in the series, but revised and updated by Cornelia?
Cornelia. Cornelia, what did you do?
I sense a reread coming on. It’s been years. This is going to feel like a really serious case of déjà vu.
Am I looking forward to it?
The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer Nielsen
This woman deserves a bigger fandom. Have been hunting every one of her books since reading The False Prince.
The Deciever’s Heart by Jennifer Nielsen
It’s marked as an uncorrected proof, which would probably be illegal to buy under other circumstances?
Yes, it now has a place of honor on my main shelf. It’s my second proof copy.
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Didn’t own a copy. Now I do. Problem solved.
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
Okorafor’s been on my list for a while, but this was the first time I got my grubby claws on one of her full-length works. I didn’t read the blurb until I got home–it might be too dark for me. We’ll see.
Fairies: Real Encounters With Little People by Janet Bord
As I told my book sale buddies, I’m going to read all of this with snacks.
It has been suggested that I take it out to the ring of trees behind where I live and read there. Just to mess with the neighbors. In case they aren’t baffled by me enough already.
Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist
Which, in case you didn’t know, is the same book as Feist’s Magician, which I picked up in hardcover at the book sale last spring because of the black and red with the dragon.
So I’ve now bought it twice.
In my defense, I was running out of time in the Magic Three Hours and wasn’t really paying attention when I (carefully) chucked those last three into the pile. And it is an updated version, so–
So now I’ll have to refrain from reading both of them and obsessively comparing if it turns out to be good.
The last book of the night is one I didn’t pick out. It’s The Spy’s Survival Handbook, and it’s black and spiral bound and every bit as cheesy as it sounds (Why is there a chicken? Why is there a chicken?).
It’s a selection by my dad, whom, as you may recall, missed the last sale. He’s happily returned in glory and scuttled off with a stack of his own.
It’s got good puzzles in the book. Codes, you know. I like them, and they’re hard to invent when you’re writing, so it’ll come in handy. He knows my taste. He’s aware I love it.
After I got back from Friends’ Night, someone asked me if I’d had enough time or if I’d been pried out as they were closing.
I said no, because I wouldn’t dare stay till the last minute and annoy the lovely volunteers. Yes, I love my books, but also…I have manners.
But…I didn’t just say no. Remember, this is at like 9:30 in the evening, after a long day of book hunting in a high-tension environment, and honestly, I got up tired.
So we entered the “tired-enough-to-spout-poetry” mode. Otherwise known as post-Comic Con adrenaline exhaustion when I’m much less careful about what comes out of my mouth.
(This is before the pickles, if you’re keeping track).
At which point as I start explaining that no, I started to leave before the 15 minute warning…
…I find myself cupping my hands over my mouth to imitate the sound of the speakers in the giant warehouse and mimicking the volunteer saying “Hello, we know that there are far more of you than there are of us, and if it came down to it, in a fight, we–we would lose, and we really don’t have any power in this situation if you decide to revolt as a unit, but we would–like to go home–soon–“
Like I said. I was tired.
But maybe I should be more concerned that the person I was telling the story to thought I was serious?
I managed to sneak back to see the rest of Cheapside (otherwise known as the dollar books section) the next afternoon.
And since this post is getting long (what are the odds when you pack me off to a fairground filled with books), let’s go:
The Snake Pit by Sigrid Undset
I broke my rule and bought a sequel. Norwegian literature. I had to.
Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson
I have been informed that as this was a 50 cent paperback I bought it at market value, except with half the pages falling out into my hand.
You can clearly see I’m very sorry about this development
(cue sounds of bookmarkedone having no regrets)
Liebe ist ein wundersames Gefühl by Joan Walsh Anglund
It’s a picture book. There’s only about five or six words per page. Guys, I’m going to feel so smart when I read this.
The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas
Lady Sherlock? Lady Sherlock. Lady Sherlock and a heist? Chocolate cake and strawberries, I’m spoiled over here.
Legend by Marie Lu
Spoilers–I’ve already devoured all of this. It’s marketed as a YA dystopia. What I was expecting was tones of thriller, street smarts, danger, and probably some flirting.
I got what I wanted.
Also it’s being adapted for the screen?
Is this even real right now? Am I beautifully hallucinating?
The Book of Runes by Ralph H. Blum
Tucked into the foreign language section. Which…isn’t wrong…but…isn’t right, either.
It’s taken its place on the same shelf as my other rune book, and since the meanings are so contentiously debated, I’ve joked that they’re now arguing with each other.
Skellig by David Almond
MG. Mysterious stranger. Looks like an overlooked gem.
Gnomes by Wil Huygen
I think I first saw this one in an antique shop? At first I thought it was the same trip that I stood reading half a Nancy Drew novel waiting for someone to decide if they were going to buy a table or not…but now I think it might have been a different occasion. Maybe even a different shop.
Anyway, twice is a coincidence, but I decided to bring it home since it crossed paths with me again. It’s huge and beautiful, and while half of it might be fluff made up by a modern author, I think there’s some old folklore hiding inside too.
Besides. Sometimes you just need a gnome.
And that’s it, everybody! Thank you for reading this long post and for tagging along to the fairgrounds with me. As always, if there’s a book on the list you know or want to see reviewed on the blog, comment away.
Until next time, happy reading!