Thursday, December 12, 2013

Real treasures

When I was growing up, going to the library meant a major trip. We lived five miles outside of a small Michigan town, so it wasn't a casual thing to just stop on by to check out some books. The bookmobile was our best friend during summer months, and during the school year, I had to content myself with what I could get from our school library. I was the only kid in my grade who was allowed to exceed the weekly limit, because they couldn't get them to me fast enough.

Fast forward a couple decades when I learned that our brand new house was only three blocks away from the local library. THREE BLOCKS. That's walkable, no matter what month is it, because hello, California. I was in heaven. Or thought I would be, anyway. The reality was, I was reading a lot of stuff electronically, and the library was tiny, and the joys I'd had as a child diminished slightly in the reality of, "Well, I've read those," or, "They don't have what I want."

It's only been in the past year or so that we started making regular trips there. This has been the time when my eleven-year-old son has discovered books the way I did. He's been devouring whole series to the point where he's gone through most of what we own that would interest him at his age level, so adding in library trips to discover new authors was the perfect answer to him.

The thing of it is, I don't go to our library to check out books. In all the time we've lived here, I've never checked out one. No, I always go and spend all my time in the sale section. You know the one I mean. It's the section of library cast-offs and books that have been donated that they sell off to help raise money.

I don't always buy anything, but sometimes, I make real scores. One week, I got a bag of eight trade paperback romances - with Lorelei James, Shayla Black, and others - for $1. But last night when we walked down after dinner...oh my.

Last night, I scored a 1936 hardcover edition of the Complete Rhyming Dictionary, complete with dustjacket. For $1.50.

I have no idea when I'll ever use it. I'm not sure I even will. But old books always give me a secret thrill. I could lose myself for hours in the used bookstores on Charing Cross when we would go into London for the day. When my husband's grandmother died a few years ago, the one thing my in-laws offered to me was picks of what few books she had. I ended up with cookbooks and gardening books that were almost a hundred years old. Real treasures.

Maybe I'll have a bad poet hero in a future story. I could use the book then.

The best part is knowing I saved it from being destroyed. It's going to have decades more to live, and just maybe my kids will pass it on so that future generations can have a taste of how books used to be.