I love a good book sale. From church bazaars, where I can pick up a discarded copy of The Help, to library sales, where I may find an old Isaac Asimov book for children. Several years ago I happened upon the mother of all book sales in the Northeast: The Five Colleges Book Sale in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Held in the high school, the sale is the work of 300 plus volunteers. The proceeds go to scholarships for students in New Hampshire and Vermont who plan on attending one of five colleges, Mt. Holyoke, Simmons, Smith, Vassar, or Wellesley. There are usually up to 40,000 books covering virtually every topic you can imagine. This year, the sale takes place on Saturday April 21st and Sunday April 22nd, with second day sales all marked down to half price. Not marked as such, you just divide the price in pencil by half. Every year for the past several years we have made the two and a half hour trip, on Sunday for the half price sale, and come back loaded down with treasures.
The cafeteria and gymnasium are given over to the bulk of the sale, clearly marked tables delineating areas of interest. The hallways, too, are lined with books, audio tapes, VHS and the odd DVD. The sale is thoroughly organised into categories so you instantly know where to begin. I head for fiction, my husband’s heading seems to change from year to year, and our friend Jason, the history teacher, heads for European History. One of the more amusing things I like to do is find books that have been incorrectly categorized, such as Joanne Harris’ Chocolat, which I found one year in the cooking section. I put it in its proper home of course, satisfied that the right person will now be able to find it. The first year we went, I found an eight volume set of Alexandre Dumas texts entitled Celebrated Crimes. I am an avid reader of Dumas and had never heard of this work before. As an added bonus, I purchased the set for 25 cents a piece, upon returning home a quick Google search showed my editions to be worth $200. They are still on my shelves, I am not a mercenary visitor of such sales.
There is also a special section for books deemed, well, special. The sale’s website will give you a preview of what they have come across this year, but if The Clock Book by Wallace Nutting, an illustrated text from 1924 concerning clocks, appeals to you then you’d best be there on Saturday.
Some of my haul from last year:
- A Decade of Fantasy and Science Fiction selected by Robert P Mills
- East O’ the Sun and West O’ the Moon: 59 Norwegian Folk Tales by George Webbe Dasent
- The Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You’ll Never Read by Stuart Kelly
- Dragonwyck by Anya Seton
- Letters of the Century: America 1900-1999 edited by Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J Adler
Sadly, we are unable to get there this year. Maybe it will give me a chance to catch up on my reading from last year. I wouldn’t say it was particularly toddler friendly, but in a few years time I look forward to packing my boys up in the wee small hours to take them on a journey of literary discovery. Oh, and not forgetting a quick stop off in neighboring Hanover for a Bear Claw, and a look around the more beautiful buildings of Dartmouth college.