The other day I picked up a book I’d bought at a yard sale. It had a yard sale price, a dollar or two, and it was of yard sale quality. It went on a stack of books—my “death stack”—never to be thought of again.
My finds aren’t always that way. Down here in Panama we have an annual Amigos de Animales “patio” sale fundraiser. I’m Queen of the sale, which basically means my garage (fortunately a very large one originally built to house a big boat) is ground zero for several months before the sale.
For some years now, we’ve been receiving an inordinate number of books on home businesses, feng shui, natural healing methods, spirituality, and other subjects most people don’t care about. Something needed to be done to stop the buildup of all of these un-saleable books, so an executive decision was made to stop selling books altogether. Instead we pack them up and deliver them to Irene, a lovely English lady who came to Panama via Cyprus, and who sells books to benefit the Handicap Foundation and a young woman who is blind. Irene can and does sell every kind of book, including those that sit untouched at our yard sale.
There is one caveat to this new policy. Regular yard sale volunteers – those who unpack items and clean and price and sell them – are allowed to look through the books and take any that are appealing. There aren’t many that fit the description, although cookbooks do pop up often. Unfortunately, they tend to be things like “100 Ways to Cook Ribs,” or “100 Ways to Cook Curry,” or “100 Ways to Have Breakfast in Bed.”
Occasionally there is a treasure. My most recent one was two volumes of the Captain Horatio Hornblower series. I’m not sure why I picked those out and decided to read them since I had a big list of books already waiting. Under normal circumstances, the Hornblowers would probably languish at the bottom of the list and eventually be consigned to the death stack.
Except it didn’t work out that way. Ignoring all protocol, which dictated that I select the top book from my “active” stack, I plunged right into “Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies.” And I was hooked.
There are eleven Hornblowers and I read them all one after the other. When I finished, I was desperate for more so I looked up other C. S. Forester naval books and ordered a couple of those. They were okay but nothing like his Hornblower magnum opus.
I like the idea of reading through a series so I’ve been looking for others. There are plenty in the mystery world, of course, and I’d be thrilled if I could find another Brother Cadfael or Poirot to devour but, failing that, my interest is leaning in other directions. So far, I’m thinking about the “Narnia” series and “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” There are six books in the latter series, a satisfying amount.
I’m always looking for suggestions of what to read. If you’ve enjoyed a series recently (or even not so recently) and would like to recommend it, please do. I’ve just given you a couple of my favorites, now I’d like to hear yours.
Harry Potter, anyone?
~~ Jane Vasarhelyi