About book-sales and an analogy about my brain

In keeping with the slightly confessional nature of this blog, I will confess an irrational character trait. I experience a visceral anxiety about book sales. If you were expecting something darker, or more obscene, I’m sorry to disappoint, I’m just not that complex.

It’s an irrational, immature, and frankly silly thing, but, locked in some dank back-room, there is a feral bibliomane, who rants incoherently, distracting and upsetting the other diligent workers in offices of my brain at the slightest mention of a book-sale. I was reminded of this irritating captive in my cognitive bureaucracy this week.

The group of volunteer supporters of the local symphony orchestra arrange a yearly book-sale as a fund-raiser. The books are donations from the public and they are collected over the course of the year. The sale takes place in the public areas of a local mall and runs about two weeks. It opened on the 12th.

Because I have that unhealthy reaction to the fortunes of random chance, I went out of my way to treat this sale with care and restraint.

I should digress for a moment and explain that, although I can safely call myself one of the tribe of the book-obsessed, I am more disciplined than some. I try and hold myself to a few rigid rules about price, utility, scarcity, and other criteria that must be satisfied before I take a book home. Training as a librarian has sharpened this sense of duty and propriety and a powerful aversion to keeping books anywhere but on a shelf allows me to apply the same criteria to books I already own. Unlike many serious book owners, I can part with books through the same process I use to buy them.

It was with mixed feelings that I failed to find any stand-out items on my first visit to the sale. This saved me some money but it was still a let-down for that gibbering fellow locked in with the water-heater. Of course, there are many more books available for the sale than were out on the first day and repeat visits can reward the thorough and persistent. And, to paraphrase one of my thesis committee members, I am nothing if not thorough.

My return trip to the sale this morning netted a few nice titles to compensate for yesterday and one rare bird I did not expect at all.

Alan Young’s Tudor and Jacobean Tournaments (London, 1987) is not the most scholarly treatment of the Early Modern sport of the elite, but it is more than nothing, which is about all there is. If one is prepared to dig around on-line for copies, there are affordable ones from various dealers, but you will need to look very hard to find one for $1.50.

For another $2.00 I got a slightly used copy (read; green and yellow highlighting on some pages) of Euan Cameron’s The European Reformation (Oxford, 1991). I’m not a Reformation specialist, but this all takes place in the background of my area. Actually, it forms the foreground for everyone but me, and it is the dominance of that event in the history of the period that makes it difficult to follow earlier trends through it’s dense traffic of conflict, political and social instability, and rapid change.

That creepy guy in the back is rather quiet today. I expect he will start banking his tin cup on the water pipes again, sometime tomorrow. I’d find better home for him, if I could, but he has voting rights on the company board, so my hands are tied, administratively.


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