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Book treasure hunting

By Dan Pool
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    One of my favorite events of the year is coming up Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
    It’s not as exciting as JeepFest and not as lively as a big DAWGS game, but all year long I look forward to the Friends of the Library used book sale – nobody laugh. I really get into used books.
    And with more than 10,000 tomes laid out for the public, this is the Holy Grail of old books, unusual reading selections and plenty of page turners.
    After going several years, I have a system of sorts to prevent me from coming home with too many books that I will never get around to, like that really old hardback whaling history that I bought about five years ago. [Though in my defense, last year on vacation I read a paperback of In the Heart of the Sea, a perfect beach book/adventure story about a whaling expedition – also a Friends purchase.]
    My system is to have one bookcase where I put all the Friends book fair purchases and I can’t buy more until I clean some off. It’s a pretty simple system but I always cheat as I never get around to reading all the ones I bought and can’t resist wedging in extra books to the point that the wooden sides may shatter some day.
    Using this system, in theory, I should only buy seven books this year and, in reality, if I stayed home this year, I have enough books in the bookcase to last several years. In theory that works, but in reality I am compulsive.
    Looking over the titles that I still intend to read, there is no pattern to my selections. There is a phone-book sized biography of Alexander Hamilton right alongside Christopher Moore’s Secondhand Souls, a funny and irreverent novel.
    There is a book called Dam Break in Georgia that deals with the disaster in Toccoa Falls, something I know nothing about, but it was only 50 cents so why not find out?
    On my book fair shelves is a novel by John Irving and Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier, about the period of the Cherokees in the Appalachians. I liked his Civil War book Cold Mountain and will probably really like this one – if I ever get around to it.
    There is a collection of essays Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace and a Wallander mystery by Henning Mankell still awaiting reading.
    Part of the excitement of going to the Friends sale is seeing what else you can find. Books at bookstores are expensive and you don’t want to waste money getting something like the dam break book that may turn out to be bad. But at the Friends event, price is no object. The challenge, and it’s fun one, is figuring out which books are worth carrying out of Chattahoochee Tech. I pick some can’t-miss-ones, like the Frazier and Irving, but also take chances like the whaling book.
    I am always inspired and worried about the people who bring carts to load up or leave with so many selections that volunteers help them out in several trips. If those are one-year supplies, then someone really burns the midnight oil with their reading.
    Me, if I find a couple of books I have been meaning to read plus a few unknowns that catch my eye, I consider it a good day.
    Do yourself a favor and go check out the sale and, follow my lead, buy at least one book on something you know nothing about or by an author you have never read before.