“Steel This Book”

A few weeks ago, I noticed that the local library in the town where my country house is located was having a book sale.  Although the hamlet is really quite small, for some reason a new library of considerable size was built a few years ago.  It has become a facility that is used for all sorts of activities beyond book stuff.  Although I don’t ordinarily use it, I’m happy to help in its support.

When I arrived at the library there were a handful of volunteers providing supermarket sized plastic bags; for five dollars one could cart away as many books as would fit in the bag.  I bought one of the bags and proceeded to a room where there were thousands of books laid out on tables.  An attempt had been made to arrange them in broad groupings with signs indicating the category. Still, unless you’re really good at reading  titles on book bindings while standing on your head, I wouldn’t suggest this as the best way to find your next read.

The books with the most elegant bindings were the ones that seemed to catch my attention.  When I was younger, I would have grabbed these simply to fill up my bookcase.  I took it as a good sign–one of maturity–that now, I passed on the Complete Works of Thomas Hardy.  Ditto for the Complete Works of Omar Khayyam.  I nearly took the bait when I come across a handsomely bound three-volume set of all of Shakespeare’s writings.  I thought  this would be a useful reference set to have.  That is, until I opened one of the books and saw that the only way the publisher could get everything into three volumes was by using a font size readable only with the use of the Hubble Telescope.  So, I passed on the Bard.

One of the categories posted was “OLD AND COLLECTABLES”.  I did a double take.  Collectables? Meaning, Collectibles?  I stood looking at the sign for what seemed like a long time.  I felt that somehow Larry David had inhabited my body as I plaintively looked around  for someone to join me in my consternation.  I was actually half-expecting that a crowd would form around the illiterate sign and that collectively we would commandeer a Magic Marker and make things right.  Finally, one of the volunteers passed by.  I got her attention and gestured with my chin toward the offending sign (think again, god help me: L.David).  She didn’t quite get what I was referring to.  I then told her that “COLLECTABLE” was spelled wrong.  “Oh”, she said.  “I see that it is.  And, in a library.  That’s so ironic.”  Her word, not mine

From there, I moved on hoping to come across something I had always intended to read.  My head was starting to ache from walking with it spun around at a 45° angle.  I couldn’t find anything of interest and  was almost ready to leave with an empty bag, albeit five dollars lighter.  But as mature as I may think I am, I’m not that mature.  So I grabbed a copy of John Updike’s Rabbit, Run I had come across, dropped it in my bag and headed for home.  I haven’t started reading it yet, but I’m really hoping it’s not just another one of those boring stories about how much of a nuisance rodents can be.

A True Collect_ble

A True Collect_ble




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