Library sale loot [November]

Oh Edmonton Public Library, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

  • I love that you give me an endless choice of things to read
  • I love that you will go out of your way to find a title I need elsewhere
  • I love that your staff is always friendly and willing to go an extra step
  • I love that your library cards are pretty and witty, and generally awesome
  • I love your involvement in our community
  • I love the interactive outdoor movie theater you host in summers
  • I love great barbeques too
  • I love that you give an hour of free internet to people who have no other way to access it
  • I love that this year you offered memberships for free and are working on keeping them free forever
  • I love that you now provide a way for others to publish their own books
  • I love that you have a database full of popular magazines, National Geographic issues, music, ebooks, and audiobooks that cost nothing but a smile
  • I love that you develop our minds continuously through readily available online courses and language learning services
  • I love that you let us express that love through buttons, banners and volunteering
  • And I absolutely love your frequent sales where all paperbacks are a dollar and hardbacks are only two.

Stay awesome, library, we love you!

Now that’s off my chest, so I guess I can get back to the main point of this post – my visit to the library sale last month. Without fail, I always go to every single sale that EPL hosts. Sometimes they are just short one-day events when the weather is nice, and sometimes they go on for a full weekend. I usually take a day off and visit them first thing Friday morning, while the crowds aren’t as bad and selection is still fresh. That lasts about thirty minutes at most, because soon it becomes hard to squeeze in between people. I never knew library sales were so similar to rock concerts, until I visited one. There are the lineups before opening, crazy stampedes at the door, pushing and shoving mosh pits by the cheap dvds, and everyone’s desperate attempt to get closer to the front row. Great fun!

All that effort of course pays off when you snag a brand new copy of Les Misérables that is normally $18 for only a dollar, or a crisp hardback of 11/22/63 by Stephen King retailing at $39 for only two bucks. I found some amazing jewels among this chaos and I’m loving it. Last month I left with some really great books too, but I also managed to get a lot of stuff that I had already read at some point, but lacked a copy on my shelf. Pretty good, no? Here’s what went home with me:

1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – I’ve been toying with the idea of owning this book ever since its release. I love creepy, and I love vintage, so a creepy vintage book is probably right up my alley. I did see a gently used copy in Value Village some time ago, but passed it up. For only a buck it shouldn’t hurt too much if I end up hating it.

2. Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George – it’s sort of funny that every Margaret George book I own came to me used, from different sources and in matching editions. This will compliment my Autobiography of Henry VIII and The Memoirs of Cleopatra nicely.

3. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – several of my Goodreads friends read this one and loved it, so I figured I’d have fun with a book about books.

4. Dracula by Bram Stoker – read this one and own it in a hardback actually, but the obsessive/compulsive reader in me wanted to have a Penguin Classics paperback to match the rest of my classics collection.

5. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton – I cannot resist a Penguin Classic that I don’t own yet.

6. Anthony & Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough – I really want to read the entire Masters of Rome series and pretty much anything else written by McCullough, so when I saw this book on the table I figured I’d buy it. I didn’t know at the time if it was a stand-alone or not, but it in fact turned out to be the seventh book in the series. Oh well, I guess it’s another excuse to hunt down the rest of the books.

7. Saturday by Ian McEwan – that’s by one of my favorite authors, so no further explanation is needed.

8 & 9. The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – controversial, challenging, and apparently ingenious. At some point in life I must read these two and form my own opinion.

10. War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy – I don’t know why exactly I got this one, because I wouldn’t read this novel in English translation when I can very well understand the original. But it was a Penguin and it was sitting all by itself and lonely, so I adopted it.

11. Beowulf in translation by Seamus Heaney – read this one just recently and really enjoyed Heaney’s work on this amazing piece of medieval literature. I’ve read another translation by Donaldson and it couldn’t be compared. This is probably the edition to own.

12. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth – this chunky novel was brought to my attention on Goodread where quite a few people in the discussion practically raved about it. I’ve never read a book set in India (or by an Indian author), so perhaps this would be a good place to start. At least I already feel intrigued by it.

13. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen – read it this year and loved it to pieces. Just like in case with McCullough’s books all of my Austen novels come from thrifty sources. I’m enjoying hunting the right edition down.

14. Post Office by Charles Bukowski – another memorable read from this year.

15. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood – this will be my first step to discovering Atwood and other Canadian authors.

16. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson – I picked up the the Dragon Tattoo a while back from Goodwill and Hornet’s nest at a different library sale, but I had a very hard time finding the right edition of the second book in the Millennium series until last month. I’m glad I could finally complete this mission after so many months of looking.

17. Bones of the Hills by Conn Iggulden – I’ve been meaning to check out the Conqueror series, because it features Genghis Khan – a rare historical figure to be featured in fiction. At the time I was deciding whether or not to buy this one I had no idea which book in the series it was (apparently the third), so I can’t really read it until I find the first two.


  1. Wow, what finds! **** goes green with envy ****

    Our library is having a sale and I could only find a Rosemary Sutcliff book and that’s it. 😦 Our libraries here are very frustrating. They tend to get rid of good titles (which I guess can be good for people like me but it is not good for the public at large) and often I can have trouble finding a classic. For example, I could not find an unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo. And what is even more shocking is that our library is part of a group of 24 libraries that are on the same system and none of them carried it. They do, however, have every DVD known to man (well, perhaps I exaggerate a little). I’ve joked with our librarian that they should re-name them entertainment centres instead of libraries. In any case, your post has given me an excellent reason to move to Edmonton! …….. now if I could just get over the thought of all the cold and snow …… 😉

  2. Haha, Edmonton weather is indeed not very friendly right now (I’ve been promised 25cm of snow by the weatherman today. Yay…) But I am so proud of our libraries here. They began re-branding last year for their 100th anniversary, so more and more amazing services are coming out every day. I like one of their new slogans that reads “Beethoven’s greatest, Beyonce’s latest”, because I think everyone can find something interesting there.

    Most of the books that go on sale at our library seem to be donations that couldn’t be accepted by the them due to the already available volume of the said titles. So most of the books are in pristine condition! As you can see on the picture, very few of the books I purchased have a library sticker on the spine.

    That’s pretty bad when a library only stocks abridged versions of a book (why do abridgements still exist anyway?). Hopefully the situation there improves over time, just keep bugging them about it. Do they accept purchasing suggestions? I’ve ordered a couple of books through EPL that way.

  3. They do accept purchasing suggestions: if I’ve suggested a DVD it’s purchased right away but none of my book recommendations have been purchased 😦 They will even have current series where, for example, book 1 and book 3 of a 6 book series are not stocked. I think part of the problem is that they outsource all of their book purchasing and cataloguing to firms back east, so they really have no control over what is going on. But they pretty much admit that if it is an old book, they get rid of it, and if it is a new book, they purchase it. :-Z There is another 8 library system in our area that does their own purchasing and their selection is much better.

    I can’t believe you were able to get books without stickers on the spine! That’s pretty amazing for a library!

  4. Well, I think the library just follows the demand of general public. That’s sad, but people today rarely read classics anymore. Everyone wants shiny and new. And I feel your pain about partially stocked series; it happened to me before. Thankfully I only had to wait maybe two months after a request and they filled the gaps. I hope your library will listen to your suggestions sooner rather than later.

  5. Holy, you did awesome! You really do have to be there right at the beginning, don’t you? Sad to say, I haven’t been to a library sale yet.

    I’m pretty jealous of your Oryx and Crake edition – I have the new paperback design and I don’t like it.

    My mom was defeated by A Suitable Boy many years ago. I remember it sitting on her bedside table for months. One of these days I’d like to give it a go.

  6. Thank you Laura! Tine is everything when it comes to these sales. I went on a Saturday morning once and found nothing! All the good stuff was gone. But they do let you have a cardboard box full of leftover books on Sundays for something ridiculously cheap like $10 or something. I guess that’s great for people who tend to read pretty much anything and then give it away to someone else. I only buy books I know about so I have to be there early to score big.

    That’s quite funny because I really like the edition of Oryx and Crake with the face and the purple flower over it and was hoping to own that one. But I am yet to see it around. This tiny paperback is pretty though, so no complains from me!

    I know big books tend to wear me out after a while no matter how interesting they are, so I might have the same issue as your mom. Hopefully I find some kind of read-along to make keeping up the good pace more fun.

  7. Awesome! What excellent finds! Lucky you.

  8. Thank you! I was very happy with those. Can’t wait for the next sale to get even luckier.

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