I love the Newtown library sale. Back in the day when I was homeschooling, I used to frequent all the library sales around here, but now I save myself for only the best. Newtown fills its Middle School’s cafeteria, auditorium, and gym with some 300,000 donated books. (The gym is shown above.) Many of the books are like new, and often a title will have several copies (they arrange the books alphabetically!) , so you can pick the best rendition. Sometimes you find things you didn’t even know existed. This is recycling at its best!
Two years ago, we were on our Newfoundland trip and missed this annual event, and last year it was cancelled because of the pandemic. It was very good to be back. Even though we were all still masked, it felt like things were starting to get back to normal. It was fun to run into book lovers I know and meet some new ones.
I bought 58 books for $111: 13 books of fiction and 8 of non-fiction for me, shown below. Some of them are authors I know that I’ve liked before, some are summer fluff-reading, and some I’ve heard are good, so I thought I’d give them a go. It is really impressive when looking over the bazillion novels in the sale, how many I’ve already read at a rate of 52 or more per year. At my stage of experience, that is really starting to add up!
When I look at what fiction to read next, I have a couple of litmus tests on choosing things after reading the back cover or the jacket. If it says, “heartbreaking.” “dysfunctional,” “violent,” “dark,” “ghost,” “broken,” “tragic,” “betrayal,” “loss,” or “sad,” I skip it. I opt for “profound,” “luminous,” “satisfying,” “fun,” “brilliant,” “creative,” “entertaining,” “true,” “stunning,” “engaging,” “splendid,” “insightful,” “triumphant,” “transcendent,” “fresh,” “sweeping,” “incandescent,” “fascinating,” “wise,” “irresistible,” and “heartwarming.” These are the books that jump into my pile. Since I know well that we get more of what we focus on, I take that seriously by avoiding unproductive or downward spiraling story arcs.
The balance –37 books– I bought for gift giving (not shown here!). This is a great boon for birthdays and Christmas for my extended family. I keep a record in my Evernote app of what books I’ve given each person over the years, so I don’t goof up and buy a duplicate for them. These people know I give them second hand books. I operate on the theory that it is the thought and effort that counts in gift giving, not the money and materialism thrown at it. People generally seem to like this approach, partly because I really do try to choose well, especially for them, but also there is a freedom surrounding the generosity, since they know I didn’t break the bank to do it.
This glorious library sale is a perfect example of the happy abundance that comes from having more from less. It is a classic example of the spiritual adage, “What blesses one blesses all.” It all feels like a gift to me from those unknown but generous donors, who already got their good out of these and are glad to no longer have them encroaching on their space. It is actually a terrific fundraiser for a library system I make a lot of use out of as well. Meanwhile, I financially support my local independent bookstore by getting my audiobooks through libro.FM (instead of Audible) which supports the brick-and-mortar bookstore of your choice. How you get your books matters both for the environment and for local communities!