Last weekend was the Booksale. If you’re new here you may not know what I’m talking about. Without getting too repetitive, there is a nonprofit in Phoenix that collects books all year long; donations from citizens, cast offs from libraries, boxes from bookstores that they couldn’t sell. Every February they sell them to the general public at ridiculously low prices and use all the profits for literacy programs in the greater Phoenix area. In 2 days this charity sells over 600,000 books, most priced at $1-$3 dollars. For several years now I have been lucky enough to attend* and come home with boxes of treasure. (*It’s not like a special invite-only event. Anyone can go. By “lucky enough to attend” I really mean “may be a little crazy but have made damn sure to attend.”)
Like the last couple of years, J-Mo and I arrived at the Arizona State Fair Grounds parking lot at about 10:00 pm on Friday night. We were well prepared and quickly got to work setting up our little camp spot complete with blow-up mattress and warm, snuggly sleeping bags. A man behind us in line had nothing but a wooden bar stool and a thermos of coffee for the entire night. Others had a tent, or fold out cots, and I even saw a propane-fueled fireplace that looked awfully cozy. I explain all this so you know that I am not the only crazy person who sleeps in the parking lot for first crack at a warehouse full of books. Last year my biggest complaint was the noise, this year J-Mo and I had ear plugs, however they really only worked until about 2:00 am when Ms. Loud-Mouth McGee arrived and settled directly behind us (the line had turned the corner and started its never-ending switchbacks) and started going on and on and ON about this and that and the other. Gaaah, she was annoying! At that point I was grateful for my white noise app on my phone; summer rain and crackling fire drown her right out (yes, I see the irony of rain + fire, but it’s a wonderfully therapeutic combination of noise). I wish I’d had an eye mask to block out all those super-bright parking lot lights, although my beanie pulled down low over my eyebrows seemed to work just fine. As a note, it can get quite chilly at night in Phoenix in February, the overnight low was in the 30′s, but with a few layers and some awesome sleeping bags neither J-Mo or I got cold.
J-Mo got up super early while I sleepily
held down the fort our place in line. We both have family in the Phoenix area and had promised a trio of pint-sized kiddos that we’d take them to the booksale. However, it was both too cold and too sketchy a part of town for either of us to really be okay with them sleeping in the parking lot, so J-Mo took off obscenely early to pick them up and bring them back before the doors opened at 8:00 am. They arrived with about 20 minutes to spare. Meanwhile, I impressed the old guys behind us with my packing skills which consisted of rolling and stuffing our sleeping bags and air mattress and packing everything back into one, enormous duffel bag.
As it got closer and closer to 8:00 am the line jostled and condensed and soon we were a mere 15 feet from the entrance, we were sure to be admitted in the first rush. It is VERY important to be in the first group because then you are more likely to snag yourself a shopping cart. When you have a shopping cart you can toss whatever looks interesting into its vast hold and sort it all out later. This is a much better plan than agonizing over this beautiful hardback or the $1.00 paperback, or trying to remember if you have this book or that author. Also with a cart you are not limited to the books you can carry. Really, it’s just the best plan to get there early enough to get a cart (see: first 3 paragraphs of this post).
The clock rolled to 8:00 and we were quickly ushered into the football field-sized warehouse stuffed to the gills with heaps and piles and rows and stacks of books. The kids were aghast, I don’t think they had ever seen so many books! It was so cute to see them sorting through the children’s section, debating over this or that book or series and getting quite excited about the hoard of Nancy Drew books that were spilling over two or three tables. J-Mo and I tag-teamed, taking turns keeping an eye on the kids and hitting up some of the other sections.
I stuck to the Biography section, the Classics section, and dabbled a bit in Art, Travel, and Cookbooks. I came home with far fewer books than previous years, but I also have 500 books at home that I have yet to read, and this year I’m trying to focus on reading my library instead of growing it, remember?
I didn’t take a single photo, but you can click through some of the posts from previous years to see what the booksale is like.
A Doll House, The Wild Duck, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder, Henrik Ibsen (book of 4 plays)
Catalina, W. Somerset Maugham
Chanel, Axel Madsen
Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story, Carlos Baker
Following the Equator, Mark Twain
Gandhi, an autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi
Glory, Vladimir Nabokov
Green Hills of Africa, Ernest Hemingway
Half Broke Horses, Jeannette Walls
King of the Wind, Henry Dennis
Krakatoa: The Day The World Exploded, Simon Winchester
Mark Twain: A Life, Ron Powers
Mark Twain on the Damned Human Race, Mark Twain
Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P.L. Travers, Valerie Lawson
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Possible Side Effects, Augusten Burroughs
Prozac Nation, Elizabeth Wurtzel
Sweet Thursday, John Steinbeck
The Heart of a Woman, Maya Angelou
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, Bill Bryson (I know…we’ll see how it goes)
The Poet of Baghdad: A True Story of Love and Defiance, Jo Tatchell
The Swiss Family Robinson, Johann Wyss
Traveling with Pomegranates, Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor
Willa Cather: Double Lives, Hermoine Lee
Wild Swans, Jung Chang
In addition to these I got 3 or 4 cookbooks and a few coffee-table sized photography books on the Rocky Mountains, Utah, and New Mexico, and a couple of gifts I’m not listing here at all. Overall I came home with 40 books and spent $38 (the guy at check out did toss one book in for free because it didn’t have a price tag, my guess is it would have been a dollar). When it comes to book buying, I win!
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