Monday, May 09, 2011

Book Sale/Treasure Hunt at Penn State

It was like the CHAP convention. But smaller. And just full of books, not curriculum.

Or maybe it was the fact that it was in the ag arena that harkened my thoughts back to the old days of wandering around the Farm Show complex with Miriam Eagleson, Rachel Shaver (Sherman), Abby Eagleson, Liz Bonfanti, and Hannah Ray. Remembering the hours spent with Miriam and Rachel looking at and purchasing books (I bought many Jane Austen and Louisa Mae Alcott books there). Remembering wandering into off limits parts of the complex and scaring ourselves with the wide spaces and darkness. Remembering the distinct sound of mothers and fathers discussing the education of children. Remembering listening to Miriam's walkie talkie and the amusing drama of the CHAP board addressing issues among vendors.

Today was nothing like that, not in a reality. But it reminded me.

Every year, someone somewhere hosts a marvelous used book sale at the Penn State ag arena. This is the first year I've heard of it. So I went. I missed the first two days but took the really glorious walk from my apartment out past the football stadium for the 9am opening. Mae Sevick met me there (who had not missed the first two days) and we wandered the aisles on a treasure hunt.

It was more than successful in my eyes, though I can just hear my parents groaning that I already have enough books and that our basement is being taken over by my bookshelf and boxes of unshelved books as it is. But really: what is more irresistable than $.50 books? I found that there is no such thing.

There were some close calls. I almost missed the Rilke tucked between "Left Behind" and "Your Better Life Now". Rilke did not deserve that placement, but I suspect that most perusers of the religious section were not looking for him. "The Man Born to Be King" had a binding I had never seen before and almost slipped through my fingers, as did Kathleen Norris's "Acedia and Me." Oh, and "The Fabric of Faithfulness," also lost in the strange religious section mess. It needed a loving home.

Some books surprised me (I still don't know what attracted me): an essay collection titled "Body", a terrifying children's books about the golem myth. Or "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Two came home in honor of Judy McKelvey [Mac, as she is affectionately known by some students], my faculty marshal for this up and coming graduation: Dante's "Inferno" translated by Pinsky (We studied this book in English 201 "What is Literature". I have loved Dante since.) and Suzan-Lori Park's play "Imperceptible Mutabilities" (Mac introduced us to her essay on the "traditions" which has influenced my understanding of literature and writing since).

Two collections came easily and without surprise: "First Fiction", first published short stories of well known authors and "The World of the Short Story". Yes, Dana loves short stories.

But now that I think about it, maybe this was like the CHAP convention in more ways than memory alone: I was giddy when I picked up a copy of "Writer's INC," my 8th grade writing text book. When I will use this, I don't know. Not looking to be the mother of an 8th grader anytime soon.

Oh well.

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