I went slightly berserk at the library book sale last Sat. Not that you could tell if you saw me, bespectacled girl with a backpack, coolly (hah!) navigating the trolleys for three hours, whilst the cashier queue whittled down from the Alphabet-calling snake to zero.
long queue at 1245 pm
No queue by 345 pm!
But inside I was going WOW! This for $2! And this! This! This! What’s not to buy?! But I exercised incredible restraint, and only bought 37. Basically, my basket wasn’t going to hold up any more (“I refuse!” it shouted, stomping it’s little aching wheeled feet), and I didn’t think I could carry much more home.
Bookshelf space was not so much the problem since I had already *ahem* eyeballed and earmarked space before coming for this raid.
But my not-very-well-thought-through-plan meant that I had to stop by my parents’ to get the key to my home (yes I forgot in my haste in sneaking out of my in-laws’ before the kids cottoned on). After I paid, I realised I could fit most of the books in my trusty Deuter, and carry the last bag. But I would not be able to walk 10 mins with that load and still live to tell the story.
So I succumbed to Taq-q-bin (they even had a few Japanese salesmen on duty that day – high profile event this!) and coughed up another $10 for home delivery of most of the books (had to carry a few home so that I had something to show for my time spent there), which fit in one box. Then I realised, HEY, if I knew I were going to Taq-q-bin, then I would have bought MORE. Including the Thicker books – I sadly relinquished a Peter Pan and Wendy volume cos it was too heavy. But I couldn’t let the unabridged (with illustrations!) Wind in the Willows go, hefty as it was. (Yeah so K & B will only be able to lose themselves in it at least 5 yrs from now, but hooo cares!)
Truly well-prepared veterans
On hindsight (oh why is it always 20/20), I realised that I should have had a better strategy. Never underestimate the siren call of books. Especially books that are going for a fraction of their cost price. I should have (a) brought a trolley, (b) brought a waterbottle and hmm… maybe food. And had a better toilet plan. (Since I was solo, I left my basket alongside a distant wall, and quickfooted it to the loo and back, all the while worrying whether it’d be cleared as they were announcing earlier. Phew they didn’t. Otherwise, 2 hours of careful selection! Gone, pooooof!)
I thought I’d spend at most 2 hours there, but upon entering the
Promised Land Hall 5B, I realised I could have spent a whole DAY there! (Or at least 5 hours.) For meals? Pack buns! This is war! Can’t believe I went without a waterbottle.
To be fair, not all the books were worth buying. I wanted to buy more board books (for B) but these were few and far between. A few I saw were in deplorable condition. I wanted to buy some mandarin books, but as usual, most were too wordy and in small font. To assuage my guilt (since I’m supposed to be the mandarin teacher of the family), I bought 5 anyway (which had some illustrations) that I could see myself reading to K.
There were many hard-covered large-ish English children books, but many were not age-appropriate for my pre-schoolers (words too small, stories too bizarre – although I did buy one on four witches cos I LOVED the quirky storyline and rhyme). I didn’t see that many well-known authors, but was super pleased to find one of my current favourites – James Mayhew! (We bought Katie’s Sunday Afternoon. There were two copies of the same and I was debating and debating whether to buy both! In the end, rationality prevailed.) I saw three different Curious George books, and I bought two.
I pottered over to the adult fiction trolleys, but they weren’t very interesting. I saw a rather tatty copy of Eat Pray Love, but I hadn’t really seen what the fuss about it was, so I returned it eventually. I bought two parenting books (Jo Frost and Tracy Hogg’s) for a friend who had just delivered, and resisted buying “Sippy Cups are not for Chardoney” and “I’m too sexy for my Volvo”, both of which I had read and were good for a laugh at $2, but not worth lugging home.
But the Travel section. They had Lonely Planet! Going for $2! *I know I ought to get over that point* Who cares if they are old editions (circa 2007- 2008)? I enjoy reading LP just for the front sections where you can learn so much about a place without even being there. So I bought Mongolia (at the consternation of the hubs – pls buy sensibly, he exhorted over whatsapp. But hey, no less than 3 friends have just been there recently so never say never. It’s good to have dreams, no?), Mediterranean Europe (inspired by V’s Amalfi Coast Capri travel post) and a few others.
I thought the fierce aunties would be the main force to reckon with, but NO! It was the Fierce Uncles that ruled the day. This uncle was so keen on travel guides that he snatched one out from the trolley as it passed him, eliciting a Oi! from the staff who was moving the trolley. He also fiercely elbowed his way to the front of every new trolley that arrived. Ooh.
To show how “unsafe” this war could get, they actually hired Security (beefy men in black shirts) to usher every trolley to its destination. The Security chap guarding the children’s book trolley had to say “Not yet…Wait everybody… Let the staff finish their job first… Safety first….”. Then once it came to a complete halt, quicker than folks unbuckle their airplane seatbelts, mums and dads would swarm like bees to scan book titles like hawks and grab those that caught their fancy.
Overall, it was a pretty civilised war. Apart from when new trolleys arrive.
I figured my future strategy should be to cart off books with interesting titles and lovely illustrations first, then sift through them slowly away from the melee. There is just no space to look through a book at the trolley since they’d be pre-teens going Excuse Me Excuse Me to look at the titles you were obscuring. I did have a “consolidate and reconcile” session, at a spacious far corner where many others were doing the same, where I considered every book before deciding whether it made the cut. There were quite a few non-fiction books too, but apart from one on “From Cocoa Bean to Chocolate” that I thought my little Chocolate Cake would like… I much preferred the selection of fiction books for kids.
Check through to see which books are not worth the bookshelf space, then consolidate your buys.
So here, I leave with you, the complete views of my spoils. Till next year, dear library sale!