Another year, another Friends of the San Francisco Public Library booksale. This year was different though. I received a VIP pass, so I was invited to go for the member day, when it was closed to the riff raff (me, every other day). I went around five, and everything was still so clean and pristine. People were everywhere, books piled high, similar editions grouped into large stacks, and so many clean almost brand-new editions.
I wandered by myself. After an hour my friend joined me. I intentionally went there earlier because I knew I’d want more time. I carried books around, then traded them for new books I found. Then I traded one edition for another.
There’s something so reassuring and hopeful about these book sales. It’s reassuring to be surrounded by so many books and like-minded people. It reminds you that even if you enjoy this particularly solitary activity, that you are not alone. And it’s hope-inducing because you are reminded of who you are as a reader, and of who you could be. Each book is a potential part of you. Each book you pick up, you might buy, take home, and dedicate between 2-20 hours of your life reading. These books represent your potential future. And they are all waiting for you to take them home.
I’ve recently become a huge fan of Ta-Nehisi Coates and I’ve been listening to a lot of interviews with him. I remember him mentioning Eldridge Cleaver’s name, so when I found Soul on Ice, I immediately picked it up. The last time I went to the book sale, my friend Christine bought a copy of The Mists of Avalon. Now I have a copy and we can read it together! I purchased the paperback of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses because I can’t recall when was the last time I saw the paperback version. This is a first edition of the paperback form. This version is particularly important, because all the book burnings were trying to prevent Rushdie’s book being reprinted into paperback. In Other Rooms, Other Stories sounded like a good story, and it takes place in Pakistan, written by a Pakistan American; I haven’t ready anything by a Pakistan American. And while I have yet to see The Hustler, I like pulp fiction, so I figured it was a good gamble.
I spent $21 total on ten books. I plan on reading four of the books I bought. Well five, because I will probably end up rereading The Satanic Verses. But the other five books I bought as gifts for friends, and the last two, the historical books about San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake and the Alamo are for my dad.
- Soul on Ice—Eldridge Cleaver
- Cooking with Fernet—Branca James Hamilton-Paterson
- The Gates of the Alamo—Stephen Harrigan
- In Other Rooms, Other Wonders—Daniyal Mueenuddin
- The Satanic Verses—Salman Rushdie (hardback)
- The Satanic Verses—Salman Rushdie (paperback)
- Bonjour Tristesse—Françoise Sagan
- The Hustler—Walter Tevis
- A Crack in the Edge of the World—America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906—Simon Winchester
- The Mists of Avalon—Marion Simmer Bradley