Some people have a “spidey sense” for useful things, but mine of course is for the presence of a used bookstore nearby. I went on a fruit-picking excursion this weekend at Larriland Farms in Woodbine, MD, and on my way home, car filled with freshly-picked blackberries and raspberries, that spidey sense went off – isn’t Books With a Past nearby? It sure was – why not stop in for a quick moment?
Well, I should have been paying better attention to their Facebook page (which I do follow). They were having a Harry Potter party! So all the while I was shopping for books to add to my women’s library, small wizards in red and gold scarves were shouting WINGARDIUM LEVIOSA! at me, having their picture taken in a “Have You Seen This Wizard?” photo booth, and enjoying some Bertie Bott’s every flavor jelly beans.
They also got to take quizzes in order to be sorted into their proper houses. It was wonderful to hear the kids taking the quizzes out loud and hearing the moms fill them out for them. Some kids put a great deal of thought into the quizzes, and others put a great deal of thought into how they could stack the quiz to get themselves sorted into Griffindor (don’t kid a kidder, here – I know what you’re up to, children). In case anyone at home is wondering, it sounds like no one in attendance was sorted into Slytherin.
It’s no shame to be sorted into Slytherin, friends – many of my nearest and dearest are Slytherins. It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities, remember! But this is not a Harry Potter blog (although Harry Potter was written by a 20th century women author…). This is a blog about building a library of women authors! So let’s get back to the matter at hand…
First of all, Books With a Past has a great selection of trade paperbacks and some mass markets too. I quickly amassed a pile of treasures including some books I had really been on the hunt for lately – Elizabeth Berg’s Talk Before Sleep and Gayl Jones’ Corregidora chief among them. I had really been looking for Gayl Jones and had despaired of finding her locally – I figured I’d have to break down and buy her online eventually. So happy to have that book on my shelf now!
Ntozake Shange, who started this whole project, was a wonderful surprise, so I had to grab Betsey Brown. And while I still haven’t located Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey (the first woman to win the Nebula and Hugo awards), I did manage to finally find The White Dragon, which has also been tough to find in used form, so I added that to my haul.
I was also thrilled to find this on their shelves:
A whole variety of Doris Lessing! She did not just write The Golden Notebook. Yes, the Nobel-winning author has many different books from which we can choose, if and when we wish to read her books. How wonderful! I grabbed The Four-Gated City to add to my own library.
And then I wandered into the back of the store and found the sales shelf, which was surprisingly fruitful. I took a chance on some authors I didn’t know (like Ellen Gilchrist), picked up a Katherine Ann Porter I wasn’t familiar with (Pale Horse, Pale Rider was amazing, so I’m happy to have another Porter to add to the library), and found a couple books I’d been hunting for (like Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail by Louise Shivers).
They also had a couple Christopher Pikes (with the correct early 90s covers) that I mooned over but then put aside for the next customer – if anyone from my age group wants an old-school copy of Die Softly, head to the back sales shelves of Books With a Past – I believe it was $1.50 ;-).
I keep telling myself to slow down with the book buying – the book shelving and book reading takes so much longer then the book buying, I can’t keep up. But then siren song of the book store calls me back.
The thing about a used book store is that its inventory is always changing, unpredictable, and never to be duplicated again from what it is at this very moment. So I always feel like I need to go right now because if I don’t, the books that are there today won’t be there anymore and will possibly never be there again!
“But, by that logic, the books are always changing, which means you should always be going to the used book stores.”
Yes! Exactly so.