Friday, March 26, 2004

Sometimes, the universe hands it to you!

This was an incredibly satisfying day.

I went to the library to return TORTILLA FLAT (I prefer their original copy of the book because it's got those hilarious Ruth Gannett Stile illustrations.) The copy I bought only has one of them as the cover. Sigh.

While in the library, I decided to "release" 3
books for Bookcrossing. This time I used a different approach. Last time, I just stuck the books on the donation table. This time, I decided to get a little creative. A real Bookcrosser's gonna love the thrill of the chase, the hunt, right? So I stuck each one where you'd find it if it was an actual book belonging to that library. One book is in the young adult section. Another is in a section that has books about book collecting. The third book is in nonfiction in the "teaching" books. I think its Dewey Decimal (I LOVE that phrase, "Dewey Decimal"!) number is 371.

With the
books released, I felt empty-handed, so I did the only thing I could do: I went to find some books. CANNERY ROW was either checked out or the library doesn't have it; I didn't check the card catalog. (It's really a computer; why do I keep saying "card catalog"?)

I ambled up to the donations
table, not expecting much, but it's always worth a look. They discarded THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE a few weeks ago. That too, was a satisfying day, but nothing compared to this one, because when I looked down at the discards, I saw THE GREATEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD!!!
I couldn't believe it. At first, I thought maybe a fellow Bookcrosser had placed it there because I've been so Johnny-One- Note about this book. On and on, blah, blah, blah. I've been thinking and dreaming and writing and talking about this book. The stink of obsession was rising and becoming a downright miasma! And then my coveted book appears before me!

So my question is: If a tree falls in the forest... no, that's not my question! 

My actual question is: If I had gone to the library with no releases and visited the donation/discard table, would THE GREATEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD have been there?

You bet I'm freaked out in a very nice way, but it's not like this has never happened to me before.

Rewind back to the early 1990's, if you will. I was seriously jonesing for a book called THE PRODIGAL WOMEN (1942?) by Nancy Hale. Of
course, it was out of print -- I can't seem to fixate on something on the current bestseller list!

So there I was, jonesing and jonesing for that damn Hale book for months and months, picking idly through my mountain of "to be read"
books. Then one weekend in January, Manfred, Manfred, Jr., and I took a 200 mile trip to visit Manfred's grandmother. She was celebrating her birthday that weekend, and the party was to be at the nursing home in which she was staying. It was really nice; a few years in the past, it had been a convent. Some of it was still convent; the place was run by nuns. I never say this about nursing homes, but it looked so neat and clean and smelled so good, I wanted to fast-forward the years and move in immediately.

Before the party started, there was a little lull. Manfred got cornered by one of the residents who was starved for
talk about current events. Manfred, Jr. went off with his cousins; they had found a pool table. No matter that they could barely see the felt on the table or that the pool cues were almost as long as they were, it was game time.

I wandered into a little alcove just off the room where the party was to be, and saw a couple of well-stocked bookshelves. Suddenly, a book bound in bright red jumped out at me: THE PRODIGAL WOMEN!

I was too startled to completely process. My THE PRODIGAL WOMEN?

I stared at the spine. Yep. Nancy Hale. Reader, I grabbed that book. It came off the
shelf with an audible crack and left some bright red cloth binding dye on the shelf. Clearly, no one had read it lately. If someone was planning to, let's say, right after the party, well that was their tough luck. I found my jacket (it was January, thank goodness) tenderly wrapped the book in it, put the jacket on a table, and went into Manfred's grandmother's party, which was just starting.

After the party, when we were ready to leave, I casually walked out with my
jacket in my arms. It was freezing. "I'm burning up!" I insisted, walking quickly to the car. To make a long story only slightly shorter, I brought the book home and began to scrutinize my own bookshelves. Catholic nursing home, I thought. Penance. Three days later, I sent them a Gail Godwin novel, VIOLET GRAY (or was it VIOLET CLAY??), with a short but sheepish note of explanation.

No comments: