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!
It should come as no surprise that I am one of those people who absolutely loves books. I love reading them, touching them, smelling them, hunting for them, stacking them up in piles, lining them up on shelves, I love looking at them. Yes, it can be said that books bring me a great deal of satisfaction. For me, the love is in the paper-and-ink book, not in an electronic version. Now, and I am going to be firm about this, you may love your Kindle, your Nook, your iPad, or whatever other tablet/droid/apple device you use to read downloaded versions of the latest novel, that is totally fine. It works for you, it is your preference, and that is fine.
But, we are not talking about you.
I love paper and ink books. I love leather-bound classics and handsome hardbacks. I love dog-eared paperbacks with a bit of sand in the spine from that trip to the beach last summer. I love finding the bookmarks from years ago, receipts or postcards or other scraps used to hold a place, and then forgotten. I love tucking a book into my purse and pulling it out to read while I eat lunch, while I wait at the doctor’s office, or before I go to bed. I love reading the inscriptions from my grandmother, parents, or friends who have given me a book for Christmas or my birthday. I love seeing their handwriting, telling me they hope I will love this book, and that they picked it out especially for me. I love seeing notes scribbled in the margins–marginalia, if you will–in either my handwriting or—as I have a propensity to buy previously loved books, in that of a stranger. I love sitting in my library and staring at the shelves, remembering bits from my favorite books, or remembering where I was when I read them, or what kind of struggles or triumphs I had at the time and will now forever associate with that particular story. I love the fact that I have a library, a real (but small) lending library with a check-out list and everything. I love that I have several books that have been handed down from my parents or grandparents. I love that I have several books—purchased at thrift stores or the booksale—that I loved as a kid and I love reading them to my nieces and nephews, finding a whole new generation of small people who are enthralled by those stories. I love that eventually I will be able to pass along my library to someone else, complete with the inscriptions and the postcard bookmarks and the marginalia.
Yes, it is clear to see that I have a thing for paper-and-ink books. For me (and again, please remember that we are not talking about you), I prefer the paper-and-ink version of books. I know all the arguments for e-book readers and e-books, but for me it just isn’t enough to justify purchasing one. I think paper-and-ink is more accessible and more universal. The idea that to enjoy a book one must purchase the device, have electricity to charge a device, and then purchase the e-book seems very elitist to me. Frankly, I think it is terrible to promote something so universal—literacy and reading—as something that has so many requirements. Do you remember back when books were new and expensive the people of a town or village would pass around a single copy until everyone had read it? Would you be willing to part with your e-reader for a couple of weeks so someone else could enjoy your latest novel-crush? Probably not. That is an expensive piece of equipment and—for you die-hard e-reader people—the only place where you keep your books. Yes, for me, paper-and-ink books are the only way to go.
Now, again, we are talking about me. About what I love, the format I prefer, and the value that I choose to place on paper-and-ink books. I have no problem with those who have their entire library on a half-pound tablet. If that works for you, if that is your preference, that is just fine. But where my biggest beef lies is in those e-reader users who insist that their way is the only way to go. I have done my research, I know the pro’s and con’s, and at the end of the day I choose a library that will require a moving truck, not one that requires a modem and a tablet. Remember, I am the type of girl who will drive for 2 days out of 3, spend the night sleeping outside in the parking lot in February, fight crowds and sidestep fisticuffs for the pleasure of scooping up several dozen new-to-me, previously loved books. When you say that I am silly or stupid or backwards for such a thing as loving paper-and-ink books as much as I do, you hurt my feelings. Big time. And we probably can no longer be friends. You can call me a nerd, a dork, or a bookworm, but don’t tell me I’m doing it wrong. There is plenty of room in this world for both types. And really, if anything other than this is the correct or only way, then I don’t want to be right.
The Booksale Recap
This guy is the only person I love more than books. Luckily, he’s a good enough sport to camp out in the parking lot with me, waiting for the opening of a booksale.
Sunrise at the Phoenix Fairgrounds, this is the only good thing about being awake at five-something on a Saturday.
Waiting for the doors to open!
Inside the warehouse of the VNSA Booksale, 600,000 books waiting to be adopted!
Amazing, right? Multiply this by about 200 and you’ll begin to understand the scope of goodies that are living in this warehouse!
I made my list, I checked it twice (and then one more time, just in case) and headed to the exit! (Yes, I have a massive spreadsheet of all my books, categorized by title and/or author. Don’t mock and don’t judge. It isn’t neighborly.)
I love the whole concept of filling up a shopping cart with books. An entire shopping cart! Hello!
I spent $128.50 and came home with 59 books, a few of which are big, gorgeous coffee table art books on Georgia O’Keefe and Picasso that clock in at $6-$10 instead of $2-3. Clearly, I made out like a bandit. A bookish bandit. Perhaps next year I will wear a mask and cape.
Acquired at the 2012 VNSA Booksale
The Heart of a Woman, Maya Angelou
French Lessons in Africa, Peter Biddlecombe
Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow
A Reporter’s Life, Walter Cronkite
The Roald Dahl Omnibus, Roald Dahl
Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
For the Love of Prague, Gene Deitch
Bleak House, Charles Dickens
Room, Emma Donoghue
The World As I See It, Albert Einstein
Dining Out Cookbook, Mary Engelbreit
The Mansion, William Faulkner
The Sanctuary, William Faulkner
Players: The Mysterious Identity of Wm. Shakespeare, Bertram Fields
The Beautiful and Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Crack-Up, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
The Feminine Mystique, Betty Frieden
The White Queen, Philippa Gregory
The Red Queen, Philippa Gregory
Seven Years in Tibet, Heinrich Harrer
Looking for Alaska, Peter Jenkins
Digital Photography for Dummies,Julie Adair King
Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri
Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Beatrice and Virgil, Yann Martel
Audrey Hepburn, Diana Maychick
Coined by Shakespeare, McQuain and Malless
Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eyes, Toni Morrison
Dreams of my Father, Barack Obama
Georgia O’Keefe: Art and Letters
Georgia O’Keefe (coffee table book of her paintings)
When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris
The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara
Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegner
Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner
Short Stories of John Steinbeck, John Steinbeck
The Winter of our Discontent, John Steinbeck
The Help, Kathryn Stockett
The Book of Lost Tales, J.R.R. Tolkein
Russian Stories and Legends,Leo Tolstoy
A Man Without A Country, Kurt Vonnegut
Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut
Picasso, Carsten-Peter Warncke
To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
The Waves, Virginia Woolf
Belize, Guatemala & Southern Mexico, Footprint
Best of Lonely Plant Travel Writing, Lonely Planet
Istanbul, Lonely Planet
New Zealand, Lonely Planet
Scotland, Rough Guide
Portugal, Rough Guide
Egypt, Rough Guide
For my birthday J-Mo gave me bookcases. The man knows–and loves–me so well. Swoon!
Filed under: AwesomeSauce, Bookworm, Favorite Things, Phoenix Booksale, Proof that I'm a Nerd
You guys, I am so excited!! February is almost here and I have been counting down the days for an entire YEAR!
No, it’s not because of Groundhog Day when that Puxatony rodent will decide what the crap is going on with the pathetic excuse for a winter that has been reigning over the Rocky Mountain West…
No, not because of Valentine’s Day…
It’s not because of President’s Day and the accompanying paid Monday holiday…
Or because of Fat Tuesday…
It’s not because some Academy of movie watchers will present awards for all the great films I missed in 2011. (That’s right, of the Best Picture Academy Award nominees I have seen exactly zero. Cinema Culture Fail.)
No, not because of my birthday…(However, I will be turning the big 2-9 in three weeks and until this moment I hadn’t actually thought about it.) (And now I probably will have to think about it…) (Crap.) (How about, I don’t. Does that work for everyone? GREAT!) (Hello, denial, nice to see you.) (Also, nice to see you again, overused parantheticals.)
Nope, it’s not any of those “legitimate” holidays, it is far more exciting than a paid day off or an excuse to gorge yourself on chocolate and sprinkles (see: Valentine’s Day, Fat Tuesday, Birthday, Denial). No, the reason I ma STOKED is because the second weekend of February is The Booksale! The wonderful, legendary Phoenix Booksale.
Are you lost? Confused? New around here? Let me catch you up. (Or you can read posts from the last few years here.) Every year the second weekend in February the VNSA society in Phoenix hosts a huge Used Book Sale; 600,000 books are donated throughout the year, collected from all around the city, organized and carefully arranged in a warehouse. They are stacked up on tables in towering piles and crammed underneath them in crates and boxes quietly waiting for someone to adopt them and take them home. Paperbacks are $1.50 (the price went up a few years ago) and hardbacks are $2-3 dollars a piece and those big, shiny coffee table art books priced around $5-$10. On Saturday morning 100,000 people show up at the Phoenix Fairgrounds, wait for hours in switch-back lines that go for miles and jostle and throw elbows for this or that particular book. There have even been incidents of two or more bibliophiles coming to fisticuffs over one book or another. Despite the fisticuff violence, it is all for a good cause. All the proceeds go towards literacy programs in the greater Phoenix area.
Did you get that? You are helping kids learn how to read! You take home boxes and bags and entire SUITCASES full of books all the while helping finance programs to help kids and English as a Second Language students learn how to read! It’s a win-win-win! Now, your only problem is deciding if you are going to fly or drive (fly Southwest if possible, Phoenix is a hub and they let you check 2 bags–i.e. 100 pounds of books–for free!), and figuring out a place to house all those lovely hardbacks once you get them back home. You have such first world problems!
Now, last year my friend HRH and I had a particularly epic adventure. We slept outside in the parking lot in a sketchy part of Phoenix. We were probably 50th in a line of thousands to get inside the booksale whem the doors opened at 8am. We both scored some amazing finds. I, by myself, came home with 94 new books. Ninety-four! Now, this year HRH cannot come to Phoenix with me, but I have convinced J-Mo to be my parking-lot camping buddy and I guarantee I will again come home victorious from the booksale.
In preparation for all the bookish festivities I am printing out a full spreadsheet of all the books that I own. (Yes, I have such a spreadsheet and it is updated every time I new book makes it’s way across my doorstep. Don’t judge. It’s brilliant.) I’ve been collecting titles from around the blogosphere of the books you all loved and raved about in 2011 (Room, In Zanesville, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Great House, etc), I’m taking that list and will try to track down those titles. I’ve talked to my older brother, a Phoenix resident, and have secured both a place to stay (and shower! and nap!) AND the camping gear required to comfortably sleep in a parking lot. (Thank you, Brother #1!) I even ordered an eye-mask so I’ll be able to sleep better under the bright lights of the fairgrounds.
You guys, I cannot wait!
Filed under: AwesomeSauce, Bookworm, Phoenix Booksale, Proof that I'm a Nerd, There and Back Again
Click here for The Booksale: Part 1
After spending the night sleeping in the parking lot, and the morning jostling with other booksale attendees, HRH and I finally made it to the check-out line. I had given myself a budget of $200 with $5 dollars leeway. I had a cart full of 94 books and, to be honest, I was a bit nervous about it. The last time I’d done an estimate of the price of my cart-o-books I was at about $150, and I had picked up several armfuls of books since that count. I crossed my fingers and squeezed my eyes shut as the volunteer manning the check-out line calculated the damage.
Him: “How does one hundred eighty-eight dollars sound?”
I opened one eye. I did a double-take of his face to see if he was serious or not.
Me: “ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY EIGHT!? Are you serious!? That sounds like a steal! As in, I literally made out like a bandit!” I then started a little happy dance, which, if you know me very well, is a rarity. I don’t dance in public, and I define “public” as anywhere outside of my bathtub. But 94 books for $188? That is dance-worthy. HRH and I hauled our purchases out to the parking lot and saw the line that had grown exponentially.
This is reason enough to sleep in the parking lot. That line snakes back and forth eight times, and each fold is about a quarter-mile long. No, thank you.
We loaded up the Tahoe and headed back to my brother’s house, giggling about our purchases and comparing notes. This year’s sale was one for the record books. As I pulled into my brother’s driveway I wondered how on earth we were going to get everything into our suitcases to bring home. I mean, we had planned well, we each had a carry on stuffed into a larger suitcase and I had another duffel bag crammed in there as well. What had started out as two checked bags between the two of us ballooned into four checked bags and a ridiculously heavy carry on, each weighing in at just under 50 pounds.
All our bags arrived safely back in Salt Lake City–although they were all opened and searched en route. I’m sure the checking agents aren’t accustomed to seeing an unreadable luggage scan due to a triple armload of hardbacks. I swear! It’s just books! Lots and lots and LOTS of books! I piled them up on my table, still unsure of where they will all live. (Although, a surprise birthday bookcase from a friend is greatly reducing the stress of that particular problem. Love you J!!)
The Loot, or How I’ll Be Spending My Time Until 2018
A Bridge for Passing, Pearl S. Buck
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain
A Night in the Cemetery, Anton Chekhov
A Treasury of Hans Christen Andersen
All The King’s Men¸Warren Robert Penn
Andersen’s Fairy Tales, Hans Christian Andersen
Andersen’s Fairy Tales, Hans Christian Andersen
Around the World in 80 Days, Jules Verne
Bednobs and Broomstick, Mary Norton
Benazir Bhutto: Daughter of Destiny, Benazir Bhutto
Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
Captain Horatio Hornblower, C.S. Forester
Classic French Fairy Tales, Grabianski
Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Cousin Bette, Honore de Balzac
David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak
Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
Dragon Seed, Pearl S. Buck
Dry., Augusten Burroughs
Fighting Angel, Pearl S. Buck
Five Little Peppers, Margaret Sidney
Folk and Fairy Tales for Boys and Girls
Hans Brinker, Mary Mapes Dodge
Henry Esmond, William Thackery
Howards End, E.M. Forster
In Her Shoes, Jennifer Weiner
Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer
King, Queen, Nave, Vladimir Nabokov
Lectures on Russian Literatures, Vladimir Nabokov
Lonely Planet: Africa on a Shoestring
Lonely Planet: Beijing
Lonely Planet: Great Britain
Lonely Planet: India
Lonely Planet: Ireland
Lonely Planet: London
Mandala, Pearl S. Buck
Mansfield Park, Jane Austen
Memoirs, Elie Wiesel
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
Modern Magic: Five Stories by Louisa May Alcott
Nabokov, Novels 1955-1962, Vladimir Nabokov
Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson
Of Human Bondage, W. Somerset Maugham
Once Upon a Time: A treasure of modern fairy tales, del Rey & Kessler
Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, Mark Twain
Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
Say You’re One of Them, Uwen Akpan
Selected Writing of Washington Irving, Washington Irving
Show Boat, Edna Ferber
Sula, Toni Morrison
Tender Is The Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Adventures of Robin Hood, Paul Creswick
The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder
The Bridge Over The River Kwai, Pierre Boulle
The Castle, Franz Kafka
The Collected Works of Anton Chekov
The Complete Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham (vol 1)
The Complete Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham (vol 2)
The First American: Ben Franklin, H.W. Brands
The House of the Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Victor Hugo
The Indispensable Faulkner, Malcolm Cowley
The Last Tycoon, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint Exupery
The Lodger Shakespeare, Charles Nicholl
The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson
The Once and Future King, T.H. White
The Possessed, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Romanovs, Ian Grey
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas
The Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard, Anton Chekhov
The Witches of Eastwick, John Updike
The Woman in White¸ Wilkie Collins
Timequake, Kurt Vonnegut
Truman Capote, George Plimpton
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
Walden and Other Writings, Henry David Thoreau
We Were the Milvaneys, Joyce Carol Oates
What Men Live By, Leo Tolstoy
Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson
Wouldn’t Take Nothing for my Journey Now, Maya Angelou
I will be reading indefinitely to catch even attempt to start all of these books. Some I have read before, I suppose, and some I may only read portions of but purchased anyway because they were pretty (do you see that chunk of leather-bound books in the photo? Yeah, $2.00 each. I couldn’t say no.) But I’d love to hear if you loved or hated anything on this list, tell me where to start with these babies!
**If you’re the kind to count, this is not all 94 books, this is about eighty-something books. I brought home a few as gifts and those are not included here because I don’t want to ruin the surprise.
Filed under: AwesomeSauce, Bookworm, Favorite Things, Phoenix Booksale, Proof that I'm a Nerd, There and Back Again
Last weekend a couple of things happened:
- I turned 28 without pomp or circumstance, just like a big girl. (In fact, there was so little pomp or circumstance it was almost like no birthday at all. Next year? I’m throwing a Big Ole Bash.)
- I play-fought my niece and nephew with the light saber app on my phone, and proceeded to build some of the most awesome Star Wars-related buildings out of legos. (I’ve never seen Star Wars, but I make a mean jail for the bad guys!)
- I lounged around in the sunshine and delightfully warm Arizona spring weather.
- I ate a freshly picked orange, it was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.
- I slept on the asphalt of a parking lot in a pretty sketchy part of Phoenix, all in the name of love. (Book love, that is.)
It’s true, friends. You know how in the first 300 pages of the last Harry Potter book it seems that the only thing that is going on is one camping adventure after another? I mean, I know there are MORE things that happen, but it’s all about the camping. Last weekend I had my own mini-experience at modern, urban camping (without magic wands and a fancy house/tent). I slept in a parking lot of a really sketchy part of Phoenix with approximately 50-1,000 frenemies. (Frenemies because we were all nice and chit-chatty before the sale started, but as soon as the doors opened it was every man, woman, or child for themselves. I was not above throwing elbows to get the ONLY copy of the “Lonely Planet Italy” book. Don’t judge me like that, it was $1.00! One Dollar!)
Last year at the Booksale of Awesome my friend HRH and I decided that instead of waking up at o-dark-hundred to secure a place in line, we would simply camp out in the parking lot. This was by far the best idea ever in regards to the booksale. We arrived at the Phoenix fairgrounds at midnight on Friday night, armed with a blow-up mattress, sleeping bags and two bags of snacks.
There were about 50-ish people ahead of us in line (this is MUCH better than last year, where there were probably 1,500 people ahead of us), we chit-chatted with our neighbors, two book dealers looking for treasures, and started making things cozy.
You’ll notice all these photos are really REALLY well lit. The giant stadium-strength lights were on, keeping everything a lot less sketchy than the neighborhood would lead you to think. Admittedly, it made it a bit trickier to fall asleep. (Note for next year: bring eye mask.)
1:00 am, wide awake, no make up and hot pink mittens to keep my fingers warm. It wasn’t terribly cold, in the low 40′s or something. But I was really REALLY glad my older brother hooked. us. up. with his cold-weather camping gear. And his SUV to haul it all back to his house. And his guest room. And his cooking skills. And his hilarious off-spring (see Star Wars reference above). And old movies to watch with his lovely wife. He moonlights as my awesome older brother, but in Real Life he’s clearly a Rockstar. (Mucho gracias, #1!)
Doors opening in T-minus-7 hours. I woke up about 5:45 Saturday morning–the lights were still insanely bright, but the line was starting to fill in with people (the line was up to about 1,000 at this point) who had no intention of sleeping. There was laughing and talking and jostling and I had no hope of getting back to the Land of Nod. HRH and I packed up our gear and pulled out the camp chairs and some breakfast (lunchable anyone?) to wait for another few hours before the doors opened.
Don’t judge. It was cold outside and the hot chocolate was too watery to make a difference. At about 7:15 am we packed everything back to the car, got our respective lists in order, and tried to smooth down some really incredible bedhead. (Operation: success!)
At this point it was perhaps 10 minutes before the doors opened, I was starting to get a little antsy and anxious, like Christmas morning. I had my list, both of books to look for and of books I already own. I knew what sections I was going to visit first. I had big plans to dash for a shopping cart, which is the most essential part of the sale as it enables you to toss in anything that looks remotely interesting and sort it all out later. Coincidentally, this is how I ended up with 3 copies of “The Three Musketeers” before the sale was over. I ended up bringing home the prettiest one, because I’m apparently really shallow like that.
8:00 am and it is GO TIME! The door opened, HRH and I made our way inside and dashed to our respective sections. She scooped up books in the Children’s section, while I raided the Travel section. We totally got a shopping cart. For the next two hours we skitted about, throwing in things that looked interesting, sorting out what we had, going back to make sure we’d gotten everything we wanted. It was heaven. To give you a little idea about how enormous this sale is, think of a giant warehouse that covers an entire acre of ground. Now pack it full of 600,000 books and about 5,000 people.
This pic was taken from one end of the warehouse. Ginormous, right? And packed with all sorts of fantastic treasures.
Imagine this multiplied by about 100 and you have an idea of how many books we’re talking about. What’s that line from Beauty and the Beast? “Books! Gads of books! Mountains of books! Forests of books! Cascades of books! Swamps of books! More books than you’ll ever be able to read in a lifetime! Books on every subject ever studied, by every author who ever set pen to paper…” (As I was googling this exact quote, my own blog post about the Library of Congress popped up as the third option…I am nothing if not consistent.)
Last year I brought home 63 books, and this year I made an even more amazing haul!
That, my bibliophilic friends, is 94 books. Ninety four! I’m still working on the comprehensive list of what I brought home, which should be published tomorrow. (It takes TIME to catalog all those titles, Mr. Braddy!) But I’ll have you know that I spent less than I’d budgeted for and with just a LITTLE bit of suitcase jostling HRH and I flew all our books home without paying any baggage check fees. (Thank you, Southwest, and your free baggage policies!)
(Ninety four!?! Daaah!! Sometimes, I amaze myself.)
There are precious few things that will rouse me out of bed at 4:45 in the morning, and that small list dwindles to next-to-nothing when I am on vacation.
An awesome book sale makes the list.
So does a flight, however after the Great Missing of the Flight Debacle of 2009 I will not be booking any flights that require such an early arousal.
This particular trip–as you know–was all about the book sale. HRH and Andrea may have raised their eyebrows a bit when I showed up with my carry-on inside a larger suitcase with a duffel bag stuffed in there somewhere. There may have been a bit of internal mockery when I printed out an enormous spreadsheet of books that I currently own. And when I reminded them that we needed to walk out the door by 5:00 a.m. I felt some interesting energy suggesting “WHAT THE CRAP! ARE YOU A CRAZY PERSON!?!?”
However, when we arrived at the Phoenix Fairgrounds at 5:35 and there were already several hundred people in line ahead of us, my madness began to make sense. When we had filled-to-overfilled a shopping cart (magically procured by HRH, a million thanks!) with approximately two hundred pounds of books, my crazy-talk began to settle in. As we sat and sorted through our loot, I consulted my list and quickly discarded any potential duplicates, and I seemed practical, not crazy. Later that day as we stuffed every square inch of every suitcase and handbag full of books, I think everything fell into place.
The book sale. It’s a big deal.
Six-hundred-thousand books sitting in a warehouse waiting to be adopted. One-hundred-thousand people fighting for rights to this book or that volume. It’s best to throw elbows. Really.
As we sat in line drinking hot chocolate and munching on bagels, playing music and chatting with Steve–the retired dude behind us in line–
Here’s the thing–I have gone to the booksale with friends in previous years. In fact, I have always dragged someone else with me. But I’ve never had the pleasure of attending with book-loving friends. I can hardly explain how awesome it was to rummage amongst the classics and toss each other recommendations. I can think of no better way to get a recommendation than to have a book hurled at your head (carefully and with a lot of aim and accuracy. Obviously. We are not derelicts.), accompanied by the statement “I love this! You must read it!”
In approximately two hours the three of us had completely filled our shopping cart, as well as a couple of bags and as many extra books as we could carry. I don’t know why Barnes & Noble doesn’t have shopping carts for their customers, it really makes one’s experience so much more enjoyable.
I walked away with 63 books for a grand total of $117.50. That, my bibliophile friends, is a STEAL! I have hardback classics and a stack of paperbacks to try. I have a couple of Lonely Planet books to peruse for upcoming vacations. I have a gorgeous illustrated hardback copy of Anne of Green Gables and Heidi that will be loved forever. I found books that were printed in the 1920′s, and ones with tidbits from their previous owners, receipts, lists, notes, a hospital admission form from 1964. I have rounded out my collection of Steinbeck and Ayn Rand and have quadrupled my “To Read” pile. I even bought some Jane Austen and have plans to blunder through, despite really disliking Pride and Prejudice. (I know, I’m supposed to like it, but I don’t. Can we still be friends?)
Next year I think I/we will do things a little differently. I have every intention to camp out in line–this eliminates several problems, the first being having to wake up at 4:45 a.m. while I’m on vacation. Hey, I’ll do it for cheap books, but I’ll try and find a way around it if at all possible.
I have included a list of all the books I brought home, if you have any opinions on any of the below, I would love to hear it. Books that I have already read have an asterisk, which means I have just added approximately sixty volumes to my already towering “To Read” pile. I can’t wait.)
A Long Fatal Love Chase, Louisa May Alcott
A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf
All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery
As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
Beloved, Toni Morrison
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
Collections of Shorts Stories of W. Somerset Maugham
Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Czechoslovak Fairy Tales, Parker & Fillmore
Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willla Cather
Dubliners, James Joyce
Essays, Poems and Addresses of Ralph Waldo Emerson
For The New Intellectual, Ayn Rand
Galapagos, Kurt Vonnegut
*Heidi, Johanna Spyri
Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy
Lonley Planet: Australia
*Lord of the Flies, William Golding
Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Love, Toni Morrison
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
Naya Nuki, Kenneth Thomasma
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen
Palm Sunday, Kurt Vonnegut
Persuasion, Jane Austen
Selected Short Stories of Franz Kafka
Selected Short Stories of William Faulkner
Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Amy Tan
The Bostonians, Henry James
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
The Color Purple, Alice Walker
The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Invisible Man, H.G. Wells
The Island of Dr. Moreau, H.G. Wells
The Lost Stories of Louisa May Alcott
The Magician, W. Somerset Maugham
The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
The Old Curiosity Shop, Charles Dickens
The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
The Prince and the Pauper, Mark Twain
The Rogue Guide to Morocco
*The Scarlett Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
*The Secret Garden, Francis Hodges Burnett
The Stories of Anton Chekov
The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand
The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells
*The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
To A God Unknown, John Steinbeck
Tortilla Flat, John Steinbeck
Utopia, Thomas More
We The Living, Ayn Rand
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
It is that time of year again. No, not the time of year when everyone falls off the “New Year New Diet” bandwagon. Not the time of year when every retail establishment is smothered in red and pink hearts and barfy sentiments about love. Not the time of year when one feels she will die from lack of Vitamin D due to the dark winter days and pollution so thick it literally blocks out the sun (Thank you, damn Salt Lake Inversion).
It is time to finalize plans to go to Phoenix for the Booksale.
Can I please get a collective SQUEE! from across The Interwebs?
If you are new here, or have amnesia, let me fill you in. Every year Phoenix hosts an absolutely enormous Used Book Sale; 600,000 books are sitting in a warehouse, organized by genre and quietly waiting for someone to adopt them and take them home. (Are you interested yet? Because if you claim to like books AT ALL you should be sitting on the edge of your seat by now.) These books are donated all year long throughout the greater Phoenix area and are then sold, with all proceeds benefiting a literacy program for the metro area. Paperbacks are $1.50, hardbacks are $2-3 dollars, and big, shiny coffee table books are $5-$10 dollars. (Are you drooling yet? You should be!) Due to terribly sad and tear-inducing circumstances completely beyond my control, I couldn’t make it last year. But here’s the post from 2008, a very good year at the Booksale.
Go ahead, go read it. I’ll wait.
Did you see those books?! Stacks of books! Piles upon piles of books! Heaps and mountains of books! Wait…you didn’t click over there? Ok, fine. Be lazy. Allow me to make your life easier by one click:
This photo was taken in the first 10 minutes of the sale, I was standing in the center of the warehouse, which is about 200 yards long and stuffed with books ready to be taken home with me. If you didn’t SQUEE earlier, you can do it now.
People, it is time to rock the booksale! Travel companions Andrea and HRH have been recruited. Plane tickets have been booked. A room has been secured at the Casa de My-Brother-Who-Is-Putting-Me-Up-In-Return-For-My-Saving-His-Place-In-Line-At-The-Booksale. I have put together a spreadsheet of the entire inventory of my current book collection (537 books in my apartment right this minute, for reals). I have made lists of the classics I still need to acquire and the more current stuff I would love to find. These lists are grouped according to the area’s at the booksale for easier location of books on said lists. All lists and spreadsheets will be printed and carefully tucked into my carry-on size suitcase, along with a large, sturdy duffel, and then the whole thing will be stowed in a larger suitcase and checked. Southwest allows you to check two cases for free and I intend to fill both of them with books. One hundred pounds of books, coming home with me via the lovely people at Southwest. If that last statement isn’t the sexiest thing ever, I don’t know what is. Squee and Double Squee!
*Another note: I have now organized every single book I’ve read in the last three years by a 5-star system, so if you are ever curious as to my favorite reads and/or my least favorite reads, it is now documented and periodically updated for your viewing pleasure.
To catch you up: The Booksale takes place in Phoenix every February. I have gone for as long as I have known it existed. 600,000 books are sold in two days, $1 for paperback and $2 for hardback. Clearly, this is the most awesome thing ever. Check it out here and here, mark your calendars and I’ll see you in Phoenix next year.
I started planning my book-buying extravaganza trip to Phoenix last February. I made mental lists of the books I wanted. I studied the layout of the booksale. I plotted the best way to hit all the sections I wanted to pillage in the most efficient order. There were spreadsheets.
In addition to planning my way around the booksale, I also made lists of places I’d like to visit in Phoenix. I’ve been to the city several times, what with the booksale runs and all, but I haven’t really done anything but the booksale. This year Handsome & I were planning on being in Phoenix for a few extra days and I was dead-set on making those few days count.
Goodness, the Booksale is legendary in my mind and–quite possibly–my most looked-forward-to event of the year. Twelve months of planning, dreamy, list-making. All for a few hours in a warehouse with hundreds of thousands of books and thousands of bibliophiles. Mmmmmm, I get excited just thinking about it.
Six weeks ago I emailed a friend of mine to see if we could crash at her house. Handsome & I stayed there last year and she assured me then that we were welcome again. Of course I emailed her, just to double check. She responded with a “COME ON DOWN!” Saweet! A few weeks later I emailed again with an approximate itinerary and my friend responded again with a “Can’t wait to see you!”
I printed out directions. I finalized my lists. I packed. I checked my email one last time before going to work and–straight from work–hitting the road to Phoenix. There was an email from my Phoenix friend, and as I read it I couldn’t help but feel my throat close off and, admittedly, a tear or two fall. We wouldn’t be able to stay there after all. Something had come up, nothing dramatic or tragic, no one was hurt or in danger. But we wouldn’t be able to stay there. May I remind you, I was practically walking out the door. There was no time to re-plan. No time to make other arrangements. No time to edit the spreadsheets to somehow arrange housing. And, what with the Booksale being on Valentine’s Weekend, and current budgetary restrictions, there was no way I could splurge for a hotel on such short notice. Well, I suppose I could…but that would blow all of my book-buying money, and frankly, that just defeats the purpose, now doesn’t it.
I understand last-minute “emergencies” and changes in plans and all that…but what. the. hell. I am not blaming my Phoenix friend, it wasn’t really something she could control. I am blaming The Universe. What on earth did I do to earn this? Talk about major disappointment, I can’t even describe how incredibly sad I felt. And hurt. And pissed off at The World. My book-buying pilgrimage that I have been looking forward to for a solid 12 months; cancelled at the last minute. I’m still heart-broken about the whole thing, actually.
Handsome & I had a lovely staycation here, and he did the truly gentlemanly thing and took me on my own book-buying spree at Barnes & Noble for my birthday. (Can I hear a collective “Awwwww!”) We had sushi for lunch, went shopping, ordered dinner to go, went to the movies with my best friend & her hubby, tried a new ice-cream place, took a couple of afternoon naps, slow-danced, played around in the snow and snuggled while watching TiVo. It really was a perfect weekend. It wasn’t my anticipated weekend, but it was perfect.
Also, in better news, my brother is moving to Phoenix in a few weeks and he is obligated to put me up next year for the Booksale. And he will have a pool with a waterfall. Yes, plans for next year’s Booksale are already in place, I have all those spreadsheets after all.
Filed under: Bookworm, Handsome V, Phoenix Booksale, There and Back Again
Here it is, the long anticipated post-mortem on the Phoenix Booksale!
On Saturday morning, Handsome & I showed up at the Phoenix Fairgrounds before sunrise and got in line. We were no-where near the front of the line. Seriously? There were probably two or three thousand people in front of us. But the sky was pretty! I still can’t believe what a good sport Handsome is; he puts up with a lot from me and still keeps a smile on his face. Sigh, he’s dreamy.
Alright, back to the Booksale…I couldn’t believe how long the lines were at quarter to seven in the morning. This line was probably three hundred feet long with four switchbacks… that’s 300 x 4 feet of line, with people stacked three or four deep.
But, it wasn’t too cold, and there was a LOT of opportunity for people watching, and we were only in line for an hour and a half before we mananged to make it into the booksale. And the booksale was gorgeous! The tables and tables of books were absolutely intoxicating. The piles of biographies, the stacks of leather-bound classics, the mountains of paperbacks. The smell of paper made me giddy, but only for a moment. After all, I was a woman with a mision! Must find Ayn Rand trilogy! Must find Moby Dick in hardback! Must find Nabokov! Must hurry!!
You can imagine my panic; this is perhaps 1/8th of the book-stuffed warehouse. I had a lot of ground to cover! I had to fight myself a little bit, because part of me just wanted to stand in the middle of the chaos and soak it all in. The people, the books, the air of excitement. After about 3 nanoseconds, the practical side of me took over and I headed to the biography section to scoop up anything that looked interesting.
Found: Ayn Rand. Found: Moby Dick. Found: Ancient soft leather-bound volume by Hemingway that is GORGEOUS! Found: Autobiography of Ben Franklin covered in the most gorgeous red leather with gilt lettering. Found: A full-of-smiles heidikins who had considerably less sleep than normal but all was forgiven at the sight of Melville, Faulkner, Dostoevsky and Khalil Gibran.
The Loot. I didn’t bring home nearly as many books as I thought I would; but there is only so much one girl can carry around in her arms whilst trying to snag “The Pursuit of Happyness” in the $1.00 bin and fight hippies for “The Prophet”. However, my grand total for everything pictured above was a whopping $35.50. That’s correct. Thirty-five bucks for tweny seven books, most of them hardbacks and in excellent condition.
I already have a February Phoenix trip on my calendar for next year, second weekend of February, doors open Saturday morning at 8:00 am. Are you gonna be there?
Some people are addicted to coffee.
Some people are addicted to Diet Coke.
Some people cannot possibly imagine a day going by without a little chocolate.
Some people are completely consumed by dogs and cats and other little furry creatures.
I’m not one of those people; I used to eat chocolate daily, but a certain sweet-tooth revolution has recently curbed that craving and I can’t seem to figure out how to make my body uncurb. Other than a certain affinity to the smell of bleach and a whole-hearted obsession with stilettos, wedges and peep-toes, I am also quite addicted to books.
Stacks of paper, sewed together and filled with tiny –but particular– smudges of ink that somehow transport readers to another time, another world, another life…mmmm, is there anything more fantastic? For most of my life I have had a book tucked into my bag or under my arm. I read on the train, I read during my lunch break, I read before I go to bed and I usually try and get a few pages in while I eat my breakfast –if I eat breakfast. I am a woman obsessed! A bonafide bookworm, and proud of it.
The last month or two I’ve finished a handful of books, started even more, and haven’t posted about any of them! Sure, I’ve put up real reviews on my book blog; but I haven’t mentioned a thing on my regular show. So, here I am, mentioning things. I have finished and reviewed (on a 5-star System) Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund (4 stars), Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (4.5 stars), Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss (3 stars), and Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk (3.5 stars). I’d love your comments and thoughts.
In just a few days (Thursday, to be exact) I am heading out on a trip that I have been looking forward to for 2 years. That’s correct, TWO YEARS! I’m not going to Barcelona, or Germany, or China (sigh…I want to go to China!), or anywhere fancy like that. I’m going to Phoenix. What? Phoenix? That is the final destination of such a highly anticipated trip? Why yes it is, thankyouverymuch. And after I get done TELLING you how awesome Phoenix is the second weekend in February, you’ll be putting it on your calendar for next year!
Every year Phoenix hosts an absolutely enormous Used Book Sale; 600,000 books are sitting in a warehouse, organized by genre and quietly waiting for someone to adopt them and take them home. (Are you interested yet? Because if you claim to like books AT ALL you should be sitting on the edge of your seat by now.) These books are donated all year long throughout the greater Phoenix area and are then sold with all proceeds benefiting a literacy program for the metro area. Paperbacks are $1.50, hardbacks are $2-3 bucks, and big, shiny coffee table books are $5-$10. (Are you drooling yet? You should be!)
Basically, this is how Life works this weekend. On Saturday morning, I show up at the O-dark-hundred to stand in line outside the warehouse at the Phoenix Fairgrounds –with Handsome V in tow, because he’s awesome like that and is totally up for a road trip. (Yes, we’re driving. Can you imagine the costs involved with shipping boxes of books home? Ohmygoodness, it would be insane!) At any rate, we show up and wait in line for a few hours because those who get into the warehouse first get shopping carts. I’m sure you see the benefits of having a shopping cart to fill up with books. In a dog-eat-dog world, or rather, a bibliophile-knocks out-bibliophile world, having the luxury of picking up, at first glance, everything that looks interesting and sorting them out later has some serious benefits over only being able to pick up books that you are willing to carry around the football-field sized warehouse for an hour. Yes, definitely is best to get there early and throw elbows for a shopping cart.
Ok, back to the story; we get there early, hang out for a while, drink some hot chocolate and eat a bagel, chat it up with fellow bookaholics in line and then when they open the gates, pretend that we’ve never met these people before and make a flying leap for the hardbacks and the rare editions. I spend an hour frantically gobbling up stacks of biographies and art books, classics and historic volumes, travel books and books on photography or architecture, and, of course, any Shakespeare Complete Works I happen to see. After I’ve loaded up my cart to the point that I can no longer push it, I settle down in a corner, probably seated on a box of paperbacks (after checking inside for anything good) and sort through my loot. I consult my list of already-owned hardback classics (no point in having two identical copies of A Tale of Two Cities) and narrow down my treasure to a manageable volume. And by “manageable” I mean “what will fit into my trunk.
I proceed to check-out, write a ridiculously small check for the amount of literature I will be stuffing in my car, and walk away full of warm-fuzzies because I am helping people learn to read and learn to love it as much as I do. Then I go take a nap. Frankly, I can’t imagine a better way to spend a Saturday morning.
If you live in Phoenix and want to come and say hello, I’d love to meet you. Unless, of course, you have your eye on that Nabokov book, or the first edition Moby Dick, in which case, I may or may not declare all-out war. If you want to learn more about the booksale, check out the official website.