Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Book Lover's Life

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island. ~ Walt Disney

And there is no more pleasurable way to plunder that treasure than at the annual Richmond Library book giveaway. So much so that I broke routine, eating breakfast and heading directly to the main library instead of out on my usual walk.

Last night was the semi-annual book sale, but why pay even a quarter or dollar when you can wait until the next day and get them all for free, muses the thrifty book-lover? Granted, the selection is more picked over, but, hey, we're talking hundreds and hundreds of book leftovers.

Besides, I'm not convinced that the first-grabbed offerings are stuff I'd want anyway. Or maybe I just enjoy choosing from the dregs, much the way thrifting for clothing is severely limited by whatever's on the racks at any given moment.

Screaming babies aside (and there was one particularly shrill one), I spent an immersive hour and a half digging into the shelves looking for 2016 reading material, coming up with some gems as well as some offbeat choices. Experience has taught me that a book I'd never read at home takes on a whole new appeal at the beach.

Some of my choices - Updike's "Rabbit is Rich," a biography of Robert Kennedy or Hotchner's "Papa Hemingway" - are understandable picks, filling in gaps in series and understanding, while others - "A Reporter's Life" by Walter Cronkite and "Martha Gellhorn: A 20th Century Life" - speak to my fascination with cultural history.

Another obvious interest:  Bill Buford's "Heat" about his year working in Mario Batali's NYC restaurant Babbo.

The strongest theme that inadvertently emerged from my picks were the relationship books: "Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages," "Infidelity: A Memoir, "Jack and Jackie: Portrait of an American Marriage" and, perhaps most interestingly, "In the Garden of Our Dreams: Memoir of a Marriage" by a black couple who share their take on the their personal as well as the social history of the '50s to the '90s.

Most obscure choice? "Sister: The Life of Legendary American Interior Decorator Mrs. Henry Parish II." And, nope, I have absolutely no idea who this woman was or why she's significant, but I can let you know.

I couldn't resist a classic '50s novel, "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit," for its noted cultural importance and because I'm fascinated by mid-century literature when writers couldn't help but process the post WWII world. "Experience: A Memoir" by Martin Amis about growing up with a famous father and the changing British literary scene was just up my nerdy alley.

For that matter, anyone with an epic cold she's been nursing all week who gets up on a Saturday morning to pick through stacks of dusty old books has already more than proven her nerd cred.

My loot for the effort? Two bags worth, all hardbacks and heavy as bricks. Heaven.

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