Just got back from the semi-annual library sidewalk sale. It wasn’t actually on the sidewalk, as rain clouds were threatening in the distance, but you get the idea. Few things get me more excited than browsing through and looking for books. I wasn’t disappointed.
Prices ranged from about twenty-five cents all the way up to (I don’t think there was anything there that cost more than) three dollars. Some of it was stuff pulled from circulation; others were books donated by patrons that they decided to sell instead of stocking. This library has just about the best selection I have ever seen.
It also has a little store, this library, which I may have mentioned here before. I cheated and sneaked in here, and found a great copy of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and an also good copy of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (I’m sure you’ll be hearing more from me on both of these here shortly). Four dollars total; you can’t beat that.
Back out to the book sale, I was flipping through a bin of 25 cent children’s books when I had a familiar-but-also-strange experience. Just as I flipped to a particular book (the Little Golden Book “Dumbo,” as it happens), I smelled a strangely nostalgic and familiar smell (sweet and a little bit musty and not-unpleasantly vague, like a word on the tip of the tongue, or a memory you just can’t quite place). The smell reminded me of the time in my life when I would have been reading this book (we had this very same book when I was growing up), and I closed my eyes, and for a moment, just a moment, I was there.
I have heard that smells are tied very closely with memories, and there is probably some scientific explanation for what happened (i.e. Little Golden Books uses the same type of glue for all its books, and the glue has a distinct smell…). But it didn’t feel scientific. It felt like magic.
And this is why I will always love books.