Whale of a Booksale

Ever been to a library book sale? They’re fun. And if you’re like me, dangerous. Especially if you go on the last day, which will usually be some variation of a bag sale. I mean, $6 for a grocery bag full of books? !!! Dangerous.

My county’s library has a big “Whale of a Booksale” twice a year. They advertise it as having over 10,000 books, videos and audiobooks, which is not hard to believe once you walk in (and you just know they have more in back rooms ready to roll out for the next day to fill up all those ransacked tables). It ran last weekend from Friday to Sunday. I avoided Sunday; even though I would have saved a lot of money, I would have come home with … umm … (dare I admit it and keep my book-nerd cred?!) … too many books. “Too many books,” you say? “Not enough time,” I reply.


I strategize. I make lists of books I need, say: books 2-5 and 9 from The Edge Chronicles, anything by Edward Gorey or Catherynne Valente, books on calligraphy, books from specific publishers, as well as books I flat-out know I won’t find… And when I get there I discover I don’t need the list after all. I might find a few that are on the list or are tangentially related, but mostly what I find is unrelated. Serendipity! and serendipity is surprisingly effective. I try to find the books that are not actually ex-library (and you can find a lot of books that are nice and clean, that must have been donated but never circulated). Still, most books I find tend to be ex-lib. Condition is a big issue – rips or tears are a no-no. Egregious library markings are a turn-off; stickers, and so forth – unless I think I can peel it all off and make the book not look like somehting I have on loan.

These are the books I found during my limited time there on Saturday, not including an issue of Graphis magazine from 2003 with a featured article on Tomi Ungerer (the widget below looks nice, but doesn’t work the best. You can also go see it directly on my LibraryThing page):

My list of books versus what I actually found.

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