Jun 16, 2014

Library Sales....I Just Can NOT Resist

I love library sales. Where else can you find such wonderful books at fifty cents each? I'm talking about books with lovely cloth covers and dust jackets, books that have library bindings that will last forever, old first edition books, some over 100 years old with tight bindings that sat on a shelf for decades, long forgotten.

In spite of the fact that I'm trying to reduce the number of books in my house I still went to a library sale on Saturday.  It is very hard to resist. Two of my daughters went with me. We took a wagon with a box inside to hold the stacks of books we expected to find. We always find stacks of books. Always. And we did this time too.

When I go to library sales I keep an eye out for the classics, for books scheduled in the various years of Ambleside Online, and for anything else that jumps out at me. Sometimes I'll grab a book because I'm familiar with the author even though I know nothing about the particular title. I'll pick up books I already own because I know they're keepers and certainly someone else will want them. I feel sure I'll be able to find them a good home, and I usually do.

Going to library sales with a friend can be dangerous though; it can definitely test a friendship. A number of years ago a friend and I went to a sale together. At the same time we both grabbed for the same book. We literally had our hands on it at the same time. We looked up at each other, still holding onto the same book. Who would be the loving one and let go first? I admit that it wasn't me, I'm sorry to say. 

It's so fun to read the inscriptions written in the books from years ago; books given as gifts...I found a 1906 red cloth covered hard back first edition of Rudyard Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill at the sale. The inscription in the upper right hand corner on the first page reads, "Kate, Christmas 1908, Sibyl."  Who was Kate? How old was she when Sibyl gave her the book? Did she read it? Below that is a little name card glued onto the page that reads "Eric Moore, Chulmleigh, 33 Egerton Gardens, Seven Kings, Essex."  How many years later did Eric possess the book? What were the circumstances around his ownership of it? How many others owned and read this little volume? The book has traveled a fair distance since it rolled off the presses in London back in 1906. How did it end up in central Illinois at this library sale?

 I once picked up a book of children's poetry and found inscriptions scattered all through the book with little personal comments about individual poems such as, "this poem reminds me of my brother when he was just a baby."

It's fun going to these sales if for no other reason than to go hunting for gems. What will you find? Will it be some rare out of print book that you'd never be able to buy otherwise? I've found a number like that over the years, books that were selling for $80 - $100 on used book sites that I found for fifty cents in primo condition at a library sale. I've often wondered if I could have made some money on those rare finds.

I found a number of books for my daughter to share with her children...

Pipi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgrin
My Indian Boyhood by Luther Standing Bear
The Little Princess by Francis Hodgeson Burnett
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Kermit the Hermit by Bill Peet
The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg, also by Bill Peet...I love Bill Peet books.
A book of poetry by Dorothy Aldis. My girls loved any and all Dorothy Aldis books when they were young. If you have elementary aged children or grandchildren don't ever pass up a Dorothy Aldis title! I guarantee you will not be sorry.

a few of the books I brought home from the library sale

I found some books for myself too; a book on crochet, a lovely book on nature printing, a book of poetry, a book about math, and 84 Charing Cross Road (I've already started reading it!).  Quite a wide variety, don't you think?

I picked up a mystery for my husband, and several books for a friend who plans to include them in her homeschool this upcoming year, (Silas Marner to name one). While at the sale I pointed out several titles to friends who I bumped into. It's always fun to find a book, (one you don't want for yourself of course) and realize it would be perfect for someone else.

I didn't bring home nearly as many books as I have in years past, (I did try to control myself) but I did bring home enough to keep me busy reading for some time. And when I'm done reading them I can always donate them back to the library for someone else to find next time.

Do you go to library sales? What kinds of gems have you found?


  1. Linda,
    when I read your writing, I hear the words in your voice. It is almost as if we are having one of our many conversations from years ago! I, too, love library sales. Vintage cookbooks are my kryptonite. Reading an old cookbook is like reading a history book. Recipes from wartime, the great depression, and other parts of the world give insight to an earlier time. I just adore your blog - you have a way with words that is very inviting. Keep writing, my friend, and I will keep reading.

    1. Thanks Susan! What kind, sweet words! I know what you mean by old cookbooks. I have an old cookie cookbook from the early 1950's. Even the ingredients listed in some of the recipes are different than what you'd find in modern cookbooks. You've piqued my interest in cookbooks though. I hadn't even thought about the historical connections. I will definitely not pass by those tables at the next library sale.

  2. It sounds like you had fun at the book sale!

    Our library has shelves at the entrance with books for sale, year round. I can't help myself but stop and take a look at what's on the shelves, each week. I have found wonderful books for my kids, as well as my own favorite authors that I want to reread, over and over. But my favorites are the old-style homemaking books, sometimes with decorating ideas from the 50s and 60s, or helpful organizational tips for the homemaker, or the cookbooks (I especially love the menu planning sections of 50s era cookbooks). For my birthday, one of my daughters went to a library book sale near her university campus, and she found a book on decorating with fabric for me, from the 70s.

    Our library also has a stack of magazines for sale, at 25 cents/each. These make great stocking stuffers at Christmas for my whole family.

  3. Decorating with fabric from the '70's? The 1970's was the era of my young adulthood....I know I'm really dating myself here, but everyone knows I'm no spring chicken based on "About Me" at the top. For years after the 70's were ancient history I could not stand the colors, decor, and fashions of that time. When oranges and lime greens came back into style I totally resisted. Not anymore though... except in the case of bell bottoms. They never made a come back with me and never will. But In my house now just about any color works.

    How neat to have found that decorating book.

  4. hi linda,
    beautiful books have you found on sale. our library have in autumn a big book sale...i will look,maybe find i a intresting book for me.
    have a wonderful day,
    ps i have posted recipes of elderflower syrup

    1. Hi Regina, Nice to hear from you again! I checked out the recipes on your blog and they look wonderful. Thanks so much for posting them. I hope to try out the lemon balm syrup for sure and probably the vinegar too. I will be posting here soon about raspberry vinegar that I make and use in a salad dressing. It is delicious and I'm sure using your lemon vinegar would be great too.

      Thanks for sharing!


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