Have you ever had one of those red letter, best days ever? One of those finished the marathon in record time, got a compliment from the boss, won at Bingo, and grew the biggest pumpkin ever kind-of-days? I get them all the time!
I have blogged previously about the many great books we have found at thrift shops. While any desire for a human-made creation is inherently bad for the planet, I make an exception for books. They are made from trees so they are in fact sequestering carbon, and well, since they’ve been around for centuries they have huge historic-anthropologic relevance. And I just like them. Michelle and I have discussions often about whether or not to add another bookshelf to the living room, where there is absolutely unquestionably no room for another one (there are 4 bookshelves already). As a male I obviously say “dam the torpedoes, let’s buy the darn thing and I’ll figure out a way to wedge it in somewhere!” Michelle, as she calmly sips her tea, suggests that it’s a moronic idea, that there is unquestionably no room for another bookshelf and that the discussion is over, because it’s not happening, case closed.
Over the last few months we have actually been on a book decluttering program, removing books deemed unessential, thereby freeing up space … or at least reducing the number of books that are rammed in horizontally in every nook and cranny of all bookshelves.
So I have a new determination to limit my acquisitions. The ‘Non-Fiction’ bookcase, which is mine, still has horizontal books even after the purge … so I have few options.
Last fall I saw an interview on the PBS Newshour with Mark Leibovich about his book “This Town, Two Parties and a Funeral – plus plenty of valet parking in America’s Gilded Capital.” It was a great interview and there was something very compelling about him. He seemed to have a pretty ironic sense of humor and was able to be very mocking of the people we elect to represent us. I always liked “The West Wing” and I love watching the “House of Cards” on Netflix so I could hardly wait to read this book.
I asked Michelle if she could reserve it for me at the library. I know, getting a book out of a library. What an admission of defeat for a book lover. It wasn’t available because they hadn’t ordered it and it didn’t seem as though they planned to do so. So I put it on my “Would Like to Read” list and forgot all about it. As hard as it was, I had to get on with my life. It was only out in hardcover anyway, and we simply can’t afford to purchase hardcovers, especially new ones.
Late in November Michelle and were in Kingston on a Saturday to help my Dad with his Chromebook. This was the third day of the “Kingston Symphony Book Sale” fundraiser. We had been a few years ago and hadn’t been overly impressed. There were a lot of books and sure, we got a cardboard box and left with many books but they were just okay. The symphony is smart and they have this little bonus fundraiser where if you buy a ticket you can go on the first night of the sale, where presumably you get first shot at the best books, before the plebeians and huddled masses, like Michelle and me, arrive.
So since the sale had been on for several days, and we were going after lunch, on the very last day, we had set our expectations very low. This is good because I have a tendency to set mine too high and be constantly disappointed.
The sale was held in an old Alcan warehouse which was probably donated for the sale. Alcan is the former “Aluminum Company of Canada,” a company that made aluminum. They had a huge factory and research facility in Kingston, which they closed, because, well, North Americans don’t seem to make anything anymore. We just buy stuff. And here we were, just buying stuff, but that’s the topic of whole other blog.
I saw several people leaving the sale with cardboard boxes full of books, which is always a good sign. We got in and it seemed to be very well organized and they always have tons of people volunteering. Michelle went her way and I went mine and headed right for the “Political” book section. There seemed to be some good books and I started to get kind of excited. I was making a mental note of books I might go for later, since I didn’t want to have to carry them around for an hour while I browsed.
And then it hit me. There it was. It had this incandescent glow on the bookshelf to tell you it was new. It had that new look to it. And I pulled it off the shelf, and there it was … “This Town”! Fireworks went off! Handel’s Hallelujah chorus began to play (just to show you how symphony-literate I am), confetti fell from the ceiling, the Rockettes chorus lined danced by and I let out the loudest shriek as I fell crying to my knees clutching this most awesome find high above my head. Okay, I exaggerated that part a bit. But I really did have to contain myself. There it was, brand new, looked as though it hadn’t even been read, hard cover, a $27.95 book, for wait … where’s that sign with the prices … wait .. no really?… $2.00!!! Two bucks for a brand new hardcover book! A book I really, really wanted to read! And now I was going to get to own it! And my son-in-law who works in the political sphere would get to read after I was done.
This was just the point where one of the volunteers came around and announced “… and just in case you’re not aware since it’s the final afternoon of the sale … every book is half price.” As she revived me from the convulsing fit I had as I collapsed to the floor it was pretty hard to contain myself. Alright, alright, I just thanked her for the delightful news, but you get my drift. It was pretty cool.
So I was on a tear and kept finding other great books. Eventually I grabbed a box to fill. And then it happened. I found ANOTHER copy of “This Town!” For a buck! For my son-in-law! My son-in-law who is awesome and who would be at my house on Christmas and who I now had an actual real live gift for!
Which brings me to the point of this long, rambling blog which you’ve invested way too much time on already. Who can afford to buy a brand new $30 book (with tax) and give it away a couple of months later? I understand some people are space constrained, but really, how did our society get to a stage where some people have so much money? Do I need to discuss the growing gap between the wealthy and the rest of us? I doubt it. The people in Davos all seem to be hatching escape plans… http://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2015/jan/23/nervous-super-rich-planning-escapes-davos-2015.
In the meantime, before the revolution starts, I am now the “Kingston Symphony Booksale’s” Biggest Fan Ever! At this rate I shall be torn between paying to get first dibs on the first night of the sale, or gambling and waiting but getting the books half price on the final day. Michelle and I left with a box of 16 hardcover books. Let’s say if you averaged their prices new at $20/book, that’s $320 worth of books, for $16. I’m still gleeful at the thought of it. Bad Cam. Bad environmentalist. I hope the green people don’t start picketing my house.
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If you are intrigued by Cam’s enthusiasm and want to buy this book from amazon, here’s the link;