Sunday, February 13, 2011

Scrimmaging for Books

Yesterday Barry and I set new personal records for partying.  In the morning I attended a clothing party hosted by a friend of mine.  Other friends held a pre-dance dinner party late in the afternoon.  Then we attended the Valentine ballroom dance I mentioned in an earlier post, and finally a birthday party for three people we know.  We ate a lot of things we shouldn't have, including two pieces of cake each, and didn't get home until after midnight.  Barry pretty much crashed today, but I had a different kind of party to attend.

Today was the second and last day of the annual VNSA Book Sale, an institution in the Phoenix area.  Held in a cavernous building on the Arizona State Fairgrounds, it's an opportunity to load up on used and remaindered books for very little money.  The books are displayed on tables and shelves and in boxes, and the shoppers come equipped with bags and boxes and rolling carts and lists of things they're looking for.  Shopping carts are available inside the building and many people fill them up.  Particularly on the first day of the sale, the multitudes of book buyers are aggressive and acquisitive.  The second day is slightly less crowded because the books have been picked over, but those that remain are half off the already low prices; this brings out the high-volume shoppers. 

Attending the sale requires special defensive techniques.  The ability to loom slightly can discourage crowding, but if that fails, keeping one's elbows slightly cocked can help defend one's feet and ribs.  Today, however, even looming and cocking didn't keep an absent-minded woman from ramming me with a shopping cart in front of the science fiction section.  Fortunately I had my purse on one side any my tote bag full of books on the other to act as bumpers.  I ended the day unscathed with a mixed bag of hardcover and paperback books for only $19.50.

Only once did I try taking Barry with me to the sale.  The huge building and determined crowds sent him into full-fledged Asperger mode.  His initial panic attack turned into rage.  I prefer to draw a veil over the remainder of the day, but I'm still surprised we weren't cited for reckless driving or killed on the way home.  Now I go alone and try to bring back at least a couple of souvenirs for him.  This time he graciously approved the Freeman Dyson book I bought for him, although he was less pleased with the only calculus book I could find.  Ah, well, it only cost me a dollar - a small price to pay for peace on the home front.

In any case, I have a sack full of new books to explore.  Good thing I've managed to make some empty space on my bookshelves.  Maybe if I finish weeding out the books I don't intend to reread, I can volunteer to work at the VNSA sale next year.  The money from the sale goes to worthwhile causes, and the volunteers get first pick of the merchandise.

“Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own.” ~Charles Scribner, Jr.

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