Book Sale!

My county's library book sale was last weekend, and that's always an experience. It used to be in an old Kmart, and one year they stocked up the empty shelves of a closed grocery store. During that grocery year the shopping got a little cramped, but the recent location presents its own problems.

These days it's at our state fairgrounds, in the building the fair uses to show livestock. The space is huge. It's so massive that I don't have the physical or mental endurance to look through it all. We spent hours there, and I might have checked out half the tables. Maybe. And I was certainly quick-browsing a good chunk of them. I got through young adult, sci-fi, reference, some of the general fiction, and the history/memoir section. No time for mysteries or nonfiction or cookbooks. My time in general fiction was mostly spent scanning for books that looked old in hopes of scoring some out-of-print adventure novels. They used to have a section where they put the interesting old stuff, but if they're still doing that, I didn't see it.

I still made it home with a lot of nice books, including a half dozen Vorkosigan Saga paperbacks and a new, unmarked copy of Lagoon. I also picked up Edith Wharton's The Buccaneers, which I'm going to shelve with all my high-seas adventure swordfight novels because come on, that's just funny.

Library book sales are the perfect place to indulge my weird interest in old reference books. My favorites from this batch are Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, a collection of literary and cultural references, and Life and Its Marvels, a book full of very strange illustrations that are supposedly scientific in some way.

Behold one of life's marvels:

The candle part makes sense (though I think it could be clearer), but I have no idea why that guy is sniffing a plant like he just can't wait to get his fork into those raw potatoes. Still, it's a lot more informative than the page that uses drawings of Hercules, Dante, and Bach to prove a point about glands.

I can't decide if I want to keep this book to flip through forever or cut half the pages out to frame them. A blocky, abstract chart of Darwin's family tree would be appropriate decor for a guest room, right?

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