I do! Mind you, there are hundreds of books in this house I have not had time to read. But there is nothing as delicious as ambling into a used bookstore or going to a library book sale and finding an old treasure, discarded by the library or a patron, that is not available elsewhere. Alternatively, sometimes one finds an appealing but unknown book or something one meant to read but had not got around to, such as The Goldfinch. Or a handful of paperbacks to bring on vacation.
The Needham Library, two towns away, had regular book sales prior to the pandemic but rarely yielded treasure (which certainly doesn't mean I left empty-handed; no, indeed). However, I had a funny experience there about two years ago. It was a busy Saturday, beginning with a memorial service and including a visit to a friend recovering from surgery 40 minutes away. In the middle, the Needham Library sale beckoned and I decided I could justify a 15-minute visit because my friend probably needed something to read. Then, as I was browsing, they announced it was approaching closing time and to fill up your shopping bag for just $5 so, naturally, I had to give myself an extension and check out another laden table.Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw the spine of a book by Jane Casey, a suspense writer I really enjoy. I found myself going through the following internal monologue:
Look, could that be a Jane Casey book just out of reach?!
But my sister and I must own most of them and we’ve read them all, even ordering them from the UK before they are published here by St. Martin’s/Minotaur.
We wouldn’t have to share our copies . . .
Or I could lend it to the friend I am going to visit!
But didn’t I lend her a book by Jane Casey the last time I saw her?
Yes, I definitely did; surprising she didn’t mention it.
Let me move closer and grab it before someone else does.
Eureka! It’s a paperback copy of After the Fire!
That’s funny, my copy also had a plastic cover and was the UK edition . . .
It’s MY copy! How did it get here?When I opened the book and saw my initials inside, I let out a yelp of indignation that made the volunteer and patron near me back farther away. I explained to them that it was MY book. “Did you donate it by accident?” inquired the volunteer kindly.
“No, I think someone else donated it instead of returning it to me,” I responded with gritted teeth.
In fact, I surmise that the very person I was going to visit must have lent my book to someone in Needham who donated it to the library, as neither of us lives there. By the time I’d stood in line, paid for my bag of books, and reached her house, I was marveling at the coincidence of my wandering into the book sale and finding my own book and had (mostly) lost my annoyance. I didn’t tell her what had happened. After all, a good friend who loves books is hard to find and I got my book back, right?
A letter I wrote to the Boston Globe recommending Jane Casey was published last December, so if you like mysteries, you should try one of her books!
Once the world reopens, I recommend checking for library book sales near you and maybe you will find a treasure or something you lent to the wrong person! And, yes, I will be a more judicious lender in the future . . .