You know what my favorite thing about our local library is? The discard bin. Whenever they have books no longer fit for circulation or if someone brings in books to donate and the library can't use them they set them out for people to pick through.
The first thing I do when I walk through the door is to check and see if any new books have been set out and if they have it's "kids go look for your own books, Mom's busy rummaging in the bins like a bag lady." (a literary bag lady that is).
I have a thing for used books. Make that used hardback books, they often have inscriptions in the covers and notes in the margins that connect me to someone I've never seen before. I especially love the old 1930s historical fiction or romance and if I see any book that looks like it might fit the genre I snatch it up. It becomes a mini treasure hunt, looking through to see if there's anything good tossed out by accident among the Jackie Collins and Thomas Wolfe (how many copies of Bonfire of the Vanities are out there? They can't seem to ever get rid of them).
Almost always the books I find are missing their dust jackets so I have nothing but a title and author to go on. Sometimes I'll Google the book once I'm home to see if there's information on what it's about but usually they're out of print so there's very little information so I'll start into it wondering if I've just met my new best friend or if it'll be a dud. Makes for quite a bit of excitement in my reading experience--really the literary equivalent of a blind date--and I love it.
I found The House of Tavelinck which was by a well-known Dutch author that no one on this side of the Atlantic has heard of but which was 700 pages of French Revolution and dissolute Dutch aristocrats which I couldn't put down. I found The Sheltered Life by Ellen Glasgow and The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith which were a little dry but I saw them through and The Red Pony by Steinbeck which was six short stories one of which was about this wildly creepy snake lady that had me going right to the end.
There was Idylls of the King by Tennyson, my first attempt at Arthurian legend, then there was Red Harvest, one of three Dashielle Hammett novels combined in one volume that was so violent, so bloody, so ridiculous that it made the Sopranos look like the Mouseketeers. I always finish a book, to leave it unfinished seems tantamount to breaking a promise, but this one was beyond even my endurance.
You never know what you're going to get. I found Esther Forbes' The Running of the Tide which told the story of two families during New England's whaling days and loved it. Why hasn't anyone heard of this gem? She won a Pulitzer for her book on Paul Revere and what school child hasn't heard of her novel Johnny Tremain? But I never would have read this book if I hadn't come on it by accident.
And now sitting on my shelf waiting for me is Thomas Costain's High Towers a historical romance about Montreal, William Makepeace Thakeray's Barry Lyndon, Alfred Hitchcock Presents My Favorites in Suspense (a compilation of short stories, many of which he based movies on such as "The Birds" by Daphne DuMaurier) and Anya Seton's Avalon, a historical adventure set in ancient Scandinavia among the likes of Eric the Red. I can't wait!
Now all I need is more time to read.
This was submitted to this week's Woman to Woman segment at My Many Colored Days the theme was literature and reading.
Congratulations to LeeAnn of Grawn, Michigan for winning the collection of organizing bags from The Lazy Organizer.
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