It's halfway through December? Really? But... I have so much still to get done!
This has been an insanely fast-paced semester. Last week I had three concerts in four days. This week I had three concerts in two days. And remember Five Enchanted Roses? Yeah. Some of that still needs to get done. And I should probably think about Christmas shopping one of these weeks, too.
But that's not really why I'm writing this post. Blissfully, the semester is almost over, and I've found the perfect way to celebrate: the county-wide library book sale.
For those of you unfamiliar with library book sales, I am very sorry. You're missing out on one of life's simple joys. Sometimes libraries overstock books. With an ever-present need for more shelf space, they sell the excess for absurdly cheap prices.
This year my county is selling more than 350,000 books. According to my rough estimate, I have bought approximately 272,000 of them. As cheap as former library books are, this still means that the aforementioned Christmas presents will likely feature large amounts of popsicle sticks, glue, and glitter. And it isn't even Sunday yet, when you can buy a whole crate of books for $5! $5! That is, to my estimate, upwards of fifteen books! For $5!!
I always find it very interesting to see which books the library overstocks. Usually, there is a surplus of books featuring some sort of vampire hierarchy, books with titles like The Last Rose of Chatham County or The Highland Secret, and, regrettably, John Flanagan. (Maybe not regrettably, since it means I get to flesh out my collection of Ranger's Apprentice. Happy sigh!)
But this year, I was saddened by how many beautiful old books the library sold. I collect old books. My collection ranges in publication date from the late Victorian Era to the seventies, whereupon I decide a book ceases being old.
But books from World War II are my very favorite. The government put restrictions on paper, which forced publishers to be extremely selective in printing books. I always find it interesting, then, to see which books they deem worthy of paper.
This year I found and purchased two WWII books. One is surprisingly Green Dolphin Street, by Elizabeth Goudge (best known, I believe, for her book The Little White Horse). I admit I did not recognize her name when I picked up the book, nor did I buy it only because of its publication date. Writing on the first page caught my eye: elegant, curving handwriting that says E. Marynat 8-27-45. The only thing I love more than books published during WWII is books with old signatures and dates in them.
I did some research on it, and I realize that it's a first American edition published in 1944. I haven't started it yet, but I look forward to finding out why those publishers considered it worthy of paper.
That leaves one more book, and I confess I found this one more emotionally moving than Green Dolphin Street. It is a 1941 copy of Richard Burton's The Arabian Nights. (I realize that in 1941 America hadn't yet joined the conflict, but we were rapidly expanding the size of our Navy, so I assume paper must've been more precious.)
Even during World War II, publishers thought it was worthy to read fairytales. And if they did, why don't we? I feel like I'm running out of time in 2014, but I have much, much more of it than they did in 1941. If they in their times of danger and conflict reprinted and reread The Arabian Nights... then why don't we?