A good library is important in my life. The New Orleans library is excellent. When you think of how they’re still affected by the storm, that says a lot. But I swear one or more of the librarians is keeping tabs on my checked out books and is renewing them for me. I could’ve SWORN I had books due this Friday and now they’re due in two weeks. LOL.
The New Orleans library hosts a book sale on Saturdays and a few Saturdays ago, I was down and out, completely grumpy and I found one of my favorite books of all time, The Catswold Portal, in the original paperback, good condition (a little faded) for 10 cents. There’s nothing that lifts my spirits like that. Even though I have a copy of just about every edition of this book, I bought it anyway for a possible future gift for somebody. And it can replace the original copy I have that someone spilled coffee on (you shall remain nameless in blogland, but know I still hold you accountable, you know who you are).
Which reminds me of a post I wrote on MySpace about a truly transcendental book find. I’ll repost it here now:
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
I won’t go into a lot of detail, but for personal reasons, my life has been pretty painful and lonely lately. I won’t depress you with that, I’m here to talk about something else, a moment that made me happy and took me OUT of that.
We all love books, huh? I think I’ve assembled 888 people here who genuinely love books.
Have you ever read a book you loved, especially as a child, and then lost it? That book you look for at every book sale, in every used bookstore, thriftstore, etc.?
For my mom, it was Five Smooth Stones, a book about an interracial couple written during the 50s or 60s, I believe. For her 50th birthday, my dad and I found this book online and gave it to her–it was $50 because it was hard to find, etc. Ironically, later that same year, I found another copy of it at the Friends of the LSU Library book sale (awesome book sale, happens every year over 3 days) for 50 CENTS. And, I’ve found a copy of it every year since then (always for 50 cents) and compulsively, I have to buy it. Of course, now you can find the book pretty cheaply online, so I can’t even profit from my compulsion. BUT, my mom has 4 or 5 copies of her favorite book. 🙂
Well, now I will tell you another saga of booklove.
I read this book, a pulpy Christian-ish (i.e. C.S. Lewis) adventure book while I was in 3rd grade. It was in my elementary school library. I have always remembered really loving this book and I had a vague idea of the title.
Maybe 2 years ago, I found a book/author that was likely THE book, but I couldn’t tell from the materials (descriptions are almost always leaner for out of print books). I couldn’t buy a copy because the cheapest you could find even a crappy copy of it for online was $100. Yeah, it’s that rare.
So I pushed it to the back of my mind, along with Dragon Sword and Wind Child, another book I love that’s translated from the Japanese and impossible to find online for less than $100. Right now, I can’t justify spending that much on a book, as much as I love it.
But I kept thinking about it. I kept thinking how it’d be cool to use my publishing contacts to get this book back into print and how I could use my screenwriting skills to write the screenplay and then it’d be an awesome movie. Walden Media would love it.
Over Christmas break, I stayed with my parents for 10 days and I discovered that there was a copy at their local library (the BEST library system in the world). I re-read it and sure enough, it WAS the book I remembered. I read the whole thing in a few hours before I left town the next day (it took that long to get ahold of it). My passion was renewed, but I didn’t know how I was going to afford a copy of it.
So, three months later I’m at the Friends of the LSU Library book sale, on the last day, which is half-off day. I’ve found a few cool things over the first two days, but nothing mind-blowing. AND I almost always find something mind-blowing and exciting at this book sale (over two years, I bought almost the entire collection of Rod McKuen’s poetry books for my mom). I was a little disappointed, drifting through the kid’s section where I’d found some cool Oz books and copies of the Narnia books in the original numbering (you know, when The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was #1). I found more of those books and (COOL!) some Choose Your Own Adventure books. I was thinking about heading for the register when–
I see it. The book. I GASPED and SNATCHED that book up so fast all of the people around me were craning to see what I’d found. I trembled as I peeked to see how much it was. The blood was pounding in my ears. It was 20 cents–10 to me because it was half off day.
But better yet, it was:
the SAME edition I’d read in 3rd grade and
I almost started crying.
I consider myself more spiritual than religious and I don’t often say (or think) things like this, but…it was one of those moments (silly as this might sound) where you could kind of feel the hand of a generous god on you and I just got this wave of:
“You know, right now, your life SUCKS. It really does and I’m sorry for that, but it’s something that will make you better. Here’s something to show you that despite everything, you are SUPPOSED to be RIGHT where you are in place and time, feeling EXACTLY what you’re feeling.”
And that, in a not-so-nutshell is why I love books.