Library Book Sale Haul and Life Lessons

How did I call myself “bookish” for so many years, when I’d never shopped a library book sale? Okay, I never call myself bookish, but I have felt a vague sense of incompleteness. I finally went a few weeks ago with my colleague and cube-neighbour Christina. Have I mentioned that I have a bookish office mate? She’s into YA, which is perfect, because we didn’t fight over books.


The Haul

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First ever library book sale!

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1. Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland: Because it’s Douglas Coupland. I admit I’m finding his Roots clothing/daily slogan thing a little tiring, but, I will always love him.

2. The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews: Because All My Puny Sorrows is way to hyped for me to read it right now, and my dad’s wife recommended it to me. We’re visiting them next month, so it’ll give us something non-controversial to talk about!

3. In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje: Because I love him.

4. Away by Jane Urquhart: Because Urquart created a playlist for the book, which is kind of my thing. Prosperina by Martha Wainright made me cry.

5. When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman: Because I like the title.

6. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt: Because everyone I know who’s read it orders me to read it. Immediately.

7. The Toss of a Lemon by Padma Viswanathan: Because of this review by friend-of-Reading-in-Bed Jennifer Quist.

8. We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates: Because she is coming to Edmonton in November and I need something for her to sign. Also she has the best/worst/most absurd Twitter persona.

9. Icefields by Thomas Wharton (not pictured): Classic CanLit. The librarian who sold it was so excited for me.

The Life Lessons
1. Like many a newbie, I imagine, I went in all “I’ll just pick up a few books. One or two.” No. You’ll get ten or more. I put a few back because I had nowhere to put them. Come prepared. The true pros bring those little pull-along grocery carts. They’ve really made advances in the design of those since I delivered flyers in the 90s. I saw some that looked more like luggage.


This shopper is employing a two-part strategy: backpack + man to carry books.


2. If you see a book you might be interested in, grab it. If you change your mind, you can put it back. I hesitated over The Signature of All Things in pristine hardcover, went back maybe three minutes later, gone.

3. You don’t have to go early. The line ups are for the DVDs.

4. Plan a separate day for kids’ stuff. There were so many books and dvds, but I didn’t have time or carrying capacity after I’d been through the adult stuff. Sorry kids!

5. Go more than once. They continually update the stock.I went twice in the same day and saw some of the same people on round two. Those were the pros with the grocery carts. They are hardcore.

The Edmonton Public Library’s next Books 2 Buy event is on August 15-17. I’ll be there!

For good measure, here is my neighbour’s book haul, which resides in her filing cabinet because she couldn’t carry it home. Yeah, I think we’ll get along just fine.



  1. Too Fond

    I’m going to hear Joyce Carol Oates speak at an event in August, and I’ve never read her books, either! I have this one on my shelf, so I’ll have to pull it down soon.

  2. tanya (52 books or bust)

    I went to my first church books sale in Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago and it was nuts. There was a line up to get in, they handed out maps so you could find the section you were looking for and they had runners who would take your pile from you and put it in a crate to look through at the end. It was brilliant. I got 12 books and would have got more, but I was on my bike and only had a backpack. Better planning next year!!

  3. Naomi

    The big book sale in our town is put on by the Canadian Federation of University Women. It’s huge and I never miss it. The book prices range between $1 and $4, and I always manage to spend somewhere between $40 and $50. I only let myself take $50, so that I will be more careful what I buy. Every year I go I think there won’t be as much this year, but there always is! I take a hefty cloth shopping bag (my first year I took a man, but since then I’ve been with a friend). The sale was at the end of May, and the bag full of books is still sitting on the floor in the corner of the kitchen, because I really have no place to put the books!

    My friend and I say every year that we, as female University alumni, should join this Federation. Maybe we would get first dibs! But, we haven’t done it yet. Maybe this year…

    So, you’re hooked now, right?

  4. Amy Sachs

    Library book sales are my favorite! I do the same thing, grab anything I might just be interested in just in case. The days where an entire bag is only $5 are the best too!

  5. Melanie Kerr

    My friend went to this same sale and brought me a biography of young Elizabeth I and The Forest House by Marion Zimmer Bradley because I LOVED The Mists of Avalon. Am I SUCH a nerd?

  6. The Paperback Princess

    I haven’t been to a book sale in forever! You got some great titles. I adored When God Was a Rabbit – such an original story. And everyone is right about The Sisters Brothers. Next time I go to one of these sales, I think I will employ the “bring a strong man” strategy!

  7. Christina

    Appreciate the mention. And yup – always YA for the win! Glad I found and converted another book lover to book sales. The countdown to the August book sale has begun! We’ll be prepared this time.

  8. Brie @ Eat Books

    So sad I missed this – I love book sales like this! I’ve gone to a similar style book sale twice now in Nova Scotia, except it’s a charity drive and the books are donated. Last time I came home with a seriously good haul. I will definitely try to hit up the one in August now that baby is older. Also, I’m impressed with myself that I’ve read 4 of the titles in your pile.

  9. kmn04books

    I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never been to a library sale either! I don’t know how I call myself bookish/a book blogger. You got a really great haul! I love the spines of Miriam Toews’ books – can’t wait to hear what you think about that one!

  10. Kristilyn

    That’s it. I think I need to go with you to the next sale! You got some great titles! I keep wanting to go, but I think the husband has worked every weekend it’s on … I’ll have to make time for the August one!

  11. Thomas at My Porch

    I love your observation that the people lining up are there only for the DVDs. Around here we also have booksellers who like to get there before everyone else, but I find they tend to be interested, not surprisingly, in things with high resale value. Since most things that I am hunting for are lots of unheard of middlebrow early 20th c fiction, I am generally not in competition.

    I sometimes go ‘saleing’ with Teresa from Shelf Love and Frances from Nonsuch Book and we sometimes compete for the same titles. But worse is I find myself chatting too much and not paying enough attention to combing through all the books.

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