Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Monday, January 25, 2010

By the Book

On Sunday afternoon Spouse and I ventured down to the local library with the thought of getting an amount of exercise and fresh air.
"Look," I said as we drew near to the main door. "There's a huge book sale on today."
We found ourselves, in the blink of an eye later, standing in the middle of the sale; and there and then we decided we would, for the time being, be content to read about said exercise and fresh air between the well-thumbed, toast-crumbed pages of discarded books.
We purchased a paper bag for a few dollars; for that price we could fill it with books, we were told, to the very top- just as much as we could cram in there.
As it happened, we got in at precisely the right time; we found some delightful copies of books we already loved, and not five minutes later I snapped out of my reverie, looked around and thought something about the scene had altered. The books were no longer visible to me on account of all the people- and where was Spouse? He had been carried away on a wave of shoppers, still valiantly clutching the brown paper bag.
I waved at Spouse; immediately my elbow struck a stranger's ear. I squinted at the spine of a curious-looking book- but an arm dashed across my line of vision and the book vanished before I could read the second letter of the title- snatched up, it was, and spirited away into somebody's paper bag.
Glancing at the books was similar to watching cars pass by- one tries so hard to catch a glimpse of a face here and there, but the moment is too fleeting.
This book- gone before my eyes. That book- was it there at all? This book- dancing in mid-air before my eyes. That book- a strand of unfamiliar hair lashed at my eyes just then, so I never got to know more about it.
Spouse, when he was able to swim in my direction, gasped that we ought to leave them all to it. He had observed people scooping up books and jamming them furiously into bags without bothering to inspect the titles or ascertain the slightest interest in them.
And one fellow, Spouse claimed, was wandering around with a small device in his hand to scan barcodes with, to tell him the value of a book and, one would suppose, its usefulness.
On our way out the door, the assistant checked our receipt and stared with some surprise at our paper bag. It was less than half filled.
"You can put more!"
We shook our heads. We had enough gathered, and, despite our lack of a nifty, space-age gadget to tell us how precious the books were, we were thoroughly pleased with the afternoon's haul.

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