April 8 - 14 is National Library week, and I'm volunteering to help out at our local library book sale, which will take place on Saturday, April 14. So far we've collected -- oh, I don't know, probably 4,000 - 5,000 books that have been donated for the sale -- hard cover and paperback fiction; history and biography; piles of children's books and stacks of young adult books. We have multiple copies of the Harry Potter books, and Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy. We have boxes of Patricia Cornwell books and Michael Connelly mysteries and David Baldacci thrillers.
You can get anything you want at the local library book sale: $2 for a hardcover; $1 for a paperback. I'm officially the co-chair this year. But we have, probably, 20 volunteers helping us out. All of them are women of a certain age (except me, I'm a man of a certain age) -- although we did get some Cub Scouts in one day to help us carry boxes of donated books from the driveway into the activity room where the sale will take place.
We might invest a portion of the money in some new equipment -- but not books. There's money in the official library budget for buying books. But because of the cuts in the town budget, which in turn have squeezed the library budget, we don't have money for any "extras."
So I've been spending 4 - 6 hours a day for the last several days hauling books around, unpacking boxes, organizing displays and directing other volunteers. I'm exhausted (and still have four more days to go!). As I've said to B several times over the last week, I've forgotten how tiring it is to work every day, and I have raised my level of respect for her for holding down a full-time job.
One benefit of volunteering for the book sale, however, is that I get first dibs on the books coming in. So far I've grabbed a copy of Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (I read Freedom last year and liked it, but never read the earlier book). I grabbed a Michael Crichton that I hadn't read (I've read most of them), and a book by Larry McMurtry called Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections at Sixty and Beyond. Over the years I've read a few books by Larry McMurty (including the Last Picture Show Trilogy comprising The Last Picture Show, Texasville, and Duane's Depressed), and I've liked them -- but I hadn't heard of this one. (You'll probably see a Larry McMurtry quote up at the top of my blog before too long.)
I also picked up a book called The Forgotten Art of Building a Stone Wall, because I have a notion that one of these days I'm going to try to repair the stone wall that's collapsing into the back of our driveway. But not anytime soon -- my back is already acting up from moving all those books.
Anyway, please join me in celebrating National Library week. Libraries are one of our national treasures, offering education, entertainment and new opportunities to Americans of all ages, all races and all socio-economic levels. And all for free. So go to your library, take out a book ... and enjoy yourself!
P. S. I know there are some fellow Doc Martin fans out there, so f.y.i., the new season (at least where I am in the New York area) is premiering tonight on PBS. We'll see what new trouble Doc Martin can get himself into this year!