During my church’s women’s retreat earlier this month, we were split into small groups and given some ice breaker questions to aid in the getting-to-know you process. I laughed when I read one that asked what I’m passionate about. I’m a terribly enthusiastic person—not indiscriminately, to be sure, but when I really care about something, everyone around me knows it.
Last year Elisa and I wandered through that very basement on the final day of the sale. It was intended to be an interlude between moving her things between apartments. It was instead the highlight of a cold February day, and we returned to her place with 36 books between us. The grand total at checkout? $7.
I’ve been raving about the sale ever since. Then last week I received a voice mail from one of the Friends folks, asking if I could run this year’s sale in our events calendar. I’m generally shy about calling strangers, but I immediately returned her message. The Friends sale and fellow book lovers dispel introversion.
And now I’m a library volunteer. Friday I was shown how to organize this year’s books and given access to piles and piles of donated books. It’s slow work to start, because I’ll stop as I drop books into their respective sections and examine the shelves. I’ve been looking for a copy of Paul Hemphill’s Leaving Birmingham—could it be hidden in the Southern writers section? What untold treasures are tucked into the massive trade paperback section? I’m told it’s easier to stay focused as you spend more time at the library. We’ll see.
I left my first day with three books to add to my 2009 book sale list: A hardback copy of The Prince of Frogtown by Rick Bragg (though I ran an excerpt and interviewed him last year, I only have the review copy); Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (which caught my eye at my book club’s book swap earlier in the week); and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman (who wrote a great book of book-related essays, Ex Libris). I’m told that the Friends group is the sale’s best customers. This year, I’m afraid you’ll have to count me among that number.
This year’s Friends of Emmet O’Neal Library Book Sale will be held Feb. 20 to 22.