bliss overload - the library's Big Book Sale

Blog entry
Authored by
6 October, 2007

Last weekend was was one of my personal holidays - the annual Big Book Sale put on by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

I like to go on the final Sunday, which is dollar day - every book is a buck.

Past years, I've sometimes hovered around the $200 mark, which is a lot of books if you live in an already-book-filled apartment.

This year, my bill totalled $101, so presumably I walked out with about 100 books. Several were tall, thin music folios, and there were a good dozen (or two dozen?) paperbacks, but I also picked up some heavy hardbacks, including four volumes of the 10-volume Gateway to the Great Books series (I'm a big fan of the various Great Books series, but this one was new to me) and five volumes of the Great Ideas Program series, which I saw six months ago in a used book shop for something like $9 a volume.

I was vaguely thinking of looking for math and history books, but the only specific item on my list was a paperback copy of The Iliad - ideally, two or three, if I could find different translations. (I already have three or four paperback copies of The Odyssey; I'm not sure why I'd ended up with such a lopsided paperback Homer collection.) So straight off, I headed over to the Classics table, and within minutes, I had just what I wanted: two Iliads, the Rouse and the Rieu. Later, at home, savoring my new treasures, I flipped a few pages to compare. The translations are so beautifully different. I'm going to have great fun reading these.

I always seem to buy a few books I already have (this year, those included Listening to Music by Craig Wright and Schenker's Five Graphic Music Analyses) and I often manage to bring home two copies of a particular book (this year, that was Physics Made Simple). Ah well - at a dollar a piece, who cares? I can always donate the extras back to the library.

Among the particularly thrilling serendipitous finds: The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman (which I knew about thanks to Neil Gaiman's blog) and Three Plays by Vaclav Havel, including Tom Stoppard's translation of "Largo Desolato."

I'm looking forward to writing about lots of the delightful books I found. I've been having huge fun entering them into my Books database.

Swimming in books. Sorting through books. Lovingly paging slowly through books, dreamily anticipating reading them, and re-reading them.