Good times at the Big Book Sale

My favorite annual bookish event rolled into town this week: It’s the Big Book Sale put on by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library — and it’s awesome!

Held in a big warehouse on the waterfront, the sale is massive — according to social media posts, something like 500,000 items on sale, and everything is $4 or less! The beauty, of course, is that we can go and stock up on books and feel completely virtuous about coming home with more books than we have shelves for, because all the money goes to benefit the library.

So, yay me! I did my part.

Last night was the member preview night…

… and of course I went!

This time around, I was quite determined not to overindulge. Some years, I fill up a whole shopping cart and come home with 60+ books. Because, hey, they were all only $1 or $2, and anyway, IT’S ALL FOR A GOOD CAUSE!

But, since I’ve been doing some shelf purging recently, trying to regain some semblance of shelf control, I couldn’t really justify buying oodles of new books. Or could I?

Yes. I could. And I did.

My haul was not too shabby this time around:

All those, plus a cute little old copy of Jane Eyre:

That’s 20 books for $61 — AND IT’S ALL FOR A GOOD CAUSE! (I’m going to keep telling myself that every time someone in my house makes fun of me for getting MORE books, when I don’t have space for the ones I already have.)

In case the photo is hard to make out, here’s what I got:

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  • The Riddle-Master trilogy by Patricia A. McKillip
  • Rosewater by Tade Thompson
  • Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
  • The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan
  • Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton
  • Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate
  • The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
  • The Hunger by Alma Katsu
  • The White by Debora Larsen
  • The Feed by Nick Clark Windo
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (which is actually a gift for someone else — I already have a copy!)
  • China Dolls by Lisa See
  • The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
  • Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
  • The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian
  • The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard

The sale runs through this Sunday… and I might, just might, have to make a return visit before it’s all over. Who knows what treasures I’ll find?

If you live in the Bay Area, be sure to check it out! Remember…



The Monday Agenda 9/30/2013

MondayAgendaNot a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

How did I do with last week’s agenda?

The Girl You Left BehindDoctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)

Why do I feel like I’ve had no time to read this week? Oh yeah, real life intrudes once again… I’ve been grabbing my reading time in teeny, tiny increments all week, and I’ve made little to no progress in my stacks of books waiting to be read.

Here’s what I managed to read in the past seven days:

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes: Done! My review is here.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King: I started it on Wednesday, and I’m just past the 60% mark at this point. I like it so far — just wish I had more time!!

And in kids’ books:

Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo (Leven Thumps, #1)

Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo by Obert Skye. My kiddo and I are reading this one together, and so far, he likes it more than I do. I’m finding it kind of dark and scattered, and we’re far enough into it by now that we should have a better sense of what’s going on. If it were just me, I might move on at this point, but kiddo seems to want to continue — so onward we go.

 Fresh Catch:

Holy crow, was this a big week for acquiring books! I attended my very favorite annual event, the Big Book Sale in support of our public libraries. Over 500,000 items on sale in a huge warehouse, with avid booklovers crowding around the tables, and everything priced at $3 or less. I wrote about it here last year — so much fun! This year, I showed a bit more restraint than usual, but still managed to come home with 25 books (for a whopping price of $46!).

Among my finds were 12 ARCs for books that have just been released this year (including Double Feature by Owen King, The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, More Than This by Patrick Ness, and Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende), a beautiful hardcover edition of The Book Thief to replace my old battered paperback, and copies of several books that I’ve been meaning to get to, including a few more Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde and Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman.

On top of all that, this week saw the arrival of two eagerly awaited new releases as well as a couple of library books for me to read with the kiddo:

Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)ShadowsPeter Nimble and His Fantastic EyesThe Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man's Canyon

What’s on my reading agenda for the coming week?

The IncrementalistsSky Jumpers (Sky Jumpers, #1)Charming (Pax Arcana, #1)Before I Met You

Assuming I get through Doctor Sleep in the next few days, I need to tackle the review books that have started to pile up:

First up: The Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skyler White.

After that, one of several possibilities:

  • Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman (a middle grade book)
  • Charming by Elliott James
  • Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell

We’ll just have to wait and see what strikes my fancy when the time comes to start something new!

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.


Scoring big at the Big Book Sale

Nirvana. Paradise. Garden of Eden. The Promised Land.

If you’re a book lover living in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can get to heaven simply by heading over to Ft. Mason this week, where the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library are holding their 48th Annual Big Book Sale. According to the event website, over 500,000 items are on sale, all benefiting the SFPL’s literacy programs. It’s an amazing event, truly. Filling a warehouse-sized building, there are tables and tables filled with books of every shape, size, and subject, from tattered to pristine, from fiction to the most esoteric of topics and then some. For most of the sale, all hardcovers are $3 and paperbacks are $2 — but if you want the biggest bargain of all, stop by on Sunday when everything is $1.

Tuesday night was member preview night, which I’ve attended for the past several years. Doors opened at 4:00; when I arrived at about 3:30, the line snaked all the way around the building and down the side of the adjacent pier. I couldn’t help but get a thrill walking by all the early birds on the way to the back of the line — these are my peeps! A crowd full of book folks! People as crazed as I am, showing up with boxes, tote bags, and granny carts, chattering excitedly about what they hoped to find and what tables they planned to hit first.

My friend and I used our waiting time wisely, scoping out the map of the floor plan and plotting our order of attack: Start with science fiction and fantasy, then horror, then move on to regular fiction. Time allowing, we’d probably split up after that: me to kids’ books, graphic novels, and science; her to literary criticism, travel, and occult. Of course, once the doors opened, we were swept up in the mass rush for good books, four hours flew by in the blink of an eye, and I never did make it much further than fiction. C’est la vie.

I went to the sale with a very short wish list this year. Having spent this past weekend putting books on my new bookshelves, I went to the sale damned sure that I’d keep my purchases to a minimum. I have plenty to read in my house already!*

*I’m quite certain that if I bought no new books and took nothing out of the library for an entire year, and spent the year reading only those books already on my shelves which I haven’t read yet,  I would not run out of reading material by the end of that year. I actually thought about setting this up as a challenge for myself — my year of no new books! — but where’s the fun in that?

However, my good intentions flew out the window once I entered the sale. My tally for the night: 44 books for $88. I never did find the book I most hoped to find. (Note: If you go to the sale and happen to spot a copy of Doc by Mary Doria Russell, grab it for me!)

I did walk out with quite a satisfying haul:

  • For someone who professes not to be a fan of short stories, I sure ended up with a bunch of short story collections. Among them, four (4!!!) books of Stephen King stories, Sherman Alexie’s Ten Little Indians, Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories, a Norton anthology of science fiction, and a big fat volume entitled Treasures of Fantasy.
  • I managed to pick up some mint condition copies of classic works of science fiction by Philip K. Dick, Robert Heinlein, and Greg Bear.
  • Lots of people seemed to have off-loaded ARCs this year. My finds included ARCs of Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, and The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe.
  • I found lovely hardcover copies of The Thorn Birds and The Good Earth, both books I read and adored years ago, but which I’d lost or misplaced in various moves over the years.
  • I replaced a few books, lost when loaned out to friends who never returned them… you know who you are. Don’t worry, all is forgiven. Just don’t ask to borrow any more books.
  • Picked up — dirt cheap — various volumes in series I’ve been meaning to read, including books by Karen Marie Moning, Seanan McGuire, Patrick Rothfuss, and Jasper Fforde.
  • Plus, several other fiction titles, some very new, some I’ve always wanted to read, some I’ve read as library books but always wished to have on my shelves.

Ahhh. The pleasure of being surrounded by people who adore books, pawing through stacks and piles of paperbacks and hardcovers, looking for the gems among the thousands of books on display.

Then there are the books which I have already and love insanely. Every time I’d see a Diana Gabaldon book, I’d have to touch it and say hello. (Don’t judge me; I wasn’t being creepy or anything.) Whenever I came across something by Christopher Moore, I’d have to stifle a giggle — just seeing his books makes me laugh.

Of course, on the flip side, every time I came across a book I’d bought during the past year for more than $3, I wanted to kick myself. When will I learn? Every year, I leave the Big Book Sale resolved to not buy any more books until the next sale rolls around. Sadly, I never manage to live up to my resolutions.

What more can I say? Awesome event, great selections, amazing bargains, and all for a good cause. Check it out!