Book Nerd Mecca

I am not allowed to buy books.

It came to my attention a couple of years ago that I was obtaining books faster than I was reading them – to the point that I owned 32 unread books.  So I put a moratorium on book purchasing.  For myself, anyway.  I left the loophole of receiving books as gifts wide open.

The other exception to the rule is the annual Servants Anonymous Society of Calgary Book Sale, which runs Friday through Sunday for two weekends in June.

The annual book sale is like a holiday I look forward to.  I took the day off work, made a mental list of books I’d like to look for, and made my way down for the sale opening this morning at 10:00.  I was greeted by a lengthy queue.

I’m not the only one excited for the book sale.

After paying my $2.00 entry and getting my hand stamp…

Pandemonium. Nerdy, polite, musty pandemonium.

Servants Anonymous has been doing the book sale for nine years now, and to their credit, it’s a pretty smooth operation.  The line-ups may seem long – to both enter and pay – but they do move quickly.  And it’s worth the wait.  All soft covers are $2.00 each (or ten for $15), hardcovers are $3.00 (or four for $10).  Children’s books and harlequin romances run even cheaper.

And if tonnes of books for crazy cheap isn’t good enough for you, all funds go to a good cause, supporting Servants Anonymous Society of Calgary and Postmedia Raise-a-Reader program.


And there are as many boxes of books as you can imagine.

This guy is clearly a seasoned book sale veteran.

On the tables.  Under the tables.  Come prepared to search.

The classics section – my favourite.

And in addition to the main book sale melee, there is also an enclosed section for “special” books.  This section includes really old books, first editions, and signed copies.

Some “special” books. The children’s books in this section are awesome – old copies of Bobbsey Twins, Anne of Green Gables… you name it.

And this section is the reason I squirrel away some spending money specifically for the book sale every year.  Last year there was a beautiful, ornate latin Bible dated sometime in the 1700s.  The Religious Studies and Philosophy nerd in me was in love.  It was going for $500 so I left without it, but vowed never to let that happen again.

The extra special books are kept under glass.

This year there was no must-have (to me) priced in the hundreds, and while I toyed with taking home the very pretty One Touch of Nature (seen above) for $50, its real significance was lost on me, so I left it for someone else to appreciate.

18 books for $100

But I did happily come home with all the ones you see above.  Left pile from the general pool; the right stack from the “special” section.

The dog training selection was pretty limited, though they did seem to have well over a hundred copies of Marley & Me (also spotted in abundance: The Da Vinci Code; Eat, Pray, Love; The English Patient).  But I was able to pick up two Monks of New Skete books that – regardless of what you may think of them in particular – I’ve always wanted to read.

I’m also happy to have found A Fine Balance, which I looked for last year but didn’t find.  I’m told it will make me cry for days – challenge accepted.  And a 1935 copy of The Republic of Plato – who could turn that down?  Or a First Canadian Edition 1947 of Mrs. Mike, which I’d never heard of but was suggested to me by someone else sorting through books next to me, so I took the recommendation.

The most expensive book I brought home was this one, for $40:

Looks pretty unassuming.

Church Debts; Their Origin, Evils, and Cure (1851)

Random, I know.  But also super cool and it smells fantastic.  And I’m looking forward to reading it.

And even though that one was the most expensive, this one I got for $10 is my favourite:

The Lady of the Lake: A Poem in Six Cantos, by Sir Walter Scott

And this in particular is why it’s my favourite:

People don’t write inscriptions in books anymore, do they?

And so the ban on buying books remains… until next year.

Kindle schmindle.

About ThatJenK
Writing from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 90% pictures of my dogs; 10% miscellaneous opinions nobody asked for.

7 Responses to Book Nerd Mecca

  1. Rob says:

    That’s fantastic! I might have needed a truck.

  2. I love that there was such a long line of people wanting to buy books…actual books!!!

  3. Two copies of Of Mice and Men? Plus Catcher in the Rye, which I refuse to believe you don’t already own… Makes me forgive you for the Margaret Atwood purchase. Can’t stand her. But I did an independent reading course in Steinbeck (did I mention the Master’s in English Lit, btw?)

    I own WAY more than 32 unread books, but I’ll never stop buying. Never.

    • thatjenk says:

      Not only did I not previously own Catcher in the Rye, I’ve never actually read it! Shameful, I know. But now I have no excuse. The book sale is great for adding staples to the collection. I’ve also never read any Atwood, but you’re not the first to have that opinion – I guess I’ll find out for myself soon enough!

      • You won’t dislike Atwood after the first book. I read Surfacing and thought it was cool. Then I read The Edible Woman and thought, “Hmmm… didn’t i just read that?” My creative writing prof assured me that The Handmaid’s Tale wasn’t like her other books, and dang if he wasn’t wrong. That woman has one book in her, and I wish it had stayed there.

        As for Catcher, I can’t imagine where you went to high school if they didn’t make you read it. When you’re done, we’ll talk. 🙂

        (And if you haven’t read To Kill a Mockingbird… I have no words. None.)

        • thatjenk says:

          Haha. Catcher, unfortunately, wasn’t assigned reading in high school. Mockingbird is, though, and I looooove that one. And I also remember reading a lot of Shakespeare – which I did not love quite as much.

          (Out of curiosity, I checked, and Catcher actually does not make Alberta Education’s Authorized Resource list. Lots of other great ones I still didn’t read until later did, though.)

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