This Saturday, the missus and I headed to the Jacksonville Fairgrounds for the annual Friends of the Library Sale. Parking was no problem, and the event was well attended but not crowded. Amidst the seemingly endless horde of V.C. Andrews and Robert Ludlum leftovers, we grabbed some great stuff.

I got an extremely handsome first edition of Steinbeck’s The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, which appears to have never been touched, let alone read. This book will fit nicely within an already-large collection of Arthur book’s I’ve never finished (with the exception of T.H. White’s version, which I devoured as a youth).


While searching through kids books, my special lady came across a hardback edition of Persepolis 2. You may recall I wrote about Satrapi’s first book of Persepolis a few weeks ago. I’m happy to report that the books now exist in a special harmony, together at peace on my shelf.

I also picked up a few books I may never get around to reading, including Ian McEwan’s Atonement. This list-topper won all kinds of awards a few years ago, despite accusations of plagiarism. I’m sure that Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude is like, the best book ever: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first fifty pages several times now. I keep promising myself: next summer. The strangest thing is that I didn’t actually own this book before now. The “Oprah Book Club” sticker came off no problem, by the way. Another one that I started years ago in college, a library loan, was John Barth’s The Sot-Weed Factor, a humorous tale of Americana that I couldn’t make heads or tails of as an undergrad. The book is huge; the copy I bought, despite being a paperback edition from the early 80s, has no spinal damage and appears unread. Undoubtedly it will stay this way.

Much more useful, I’m sure, will be The Dictionary of Literary Terms by J.A. Cuddon. This book is fantastic, and I’ve already put it to good use. Cuddon’s approach is exciting: he uses plenty of illustrative examples, and even puts the specialized terminology into historical context–in many ways, this book is like a crash course on the history of rhetoric.

I was thrilled (no really, thrilled) to come across two books from the 33 1/3 series. In this series, one writer takes a close look at just one musical album. I’d already read Chris Ott’s take on Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures; I was lucky enough to snap up Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland by John Perry and Prince’s Sign O’ the Times by Michaelangelo Matos. So far, John Perry’s take on Hendrix has been one of the best musical biographies I’ve ever read, which is really saying something (for the record, it’s still no contest against the immortal classic, Crazy from the Heat, by one David Lee Roth). In edition to being concise and well-written, these books are small and have a stylish design. Perfect bathroom reading material.


Of course there were other sundry books bought, and plenty abandoned (I still regret not spending the fifty cents on Bikini Planet, a pulp sci-fi that promised “Benny Hill style humor” What was I thinking?) I could hardly carry our box as it was (although, in the interest of full-disclosure, I am very physically weak).

After the book sale, we headed across Downtown to the Prime Osborn Convention Center. My father had given us free passes to the Home and Patio Show. It was shocking. People were paying five bucks to park, waiting in a line that zigzagged out the door to pay who-knows-how-much to gain entry to what amounted to a bunch of vendors trying to sell you crap. I kept shaking my head in disbelief. Down the road were thousands and thousands of books that were practically being given away, but here people were lining up and paying to be sold things. Ah…Jacksonville! You’ve gotta love it.