BPL News & Information staff favorites

Secondhand Treasures

by Public Service Associate Hannah

“A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness, this unmistakable smell is as much a part of the book as its contents.”

~ Matija Strlic, lead scientist behind a 2009 study to find what is behind the smell of old books

It is once again Friends of the Bexley Public Library (FOL) book sale season! This twice-annual event sees the auditorium filled with neat rows of romance novels and science fiction, picture books, biographies, cookbooks, and more. So why would I, someone who already spends my days surrounded by audiobooks, music CDs, and titles that I can borrow for free, visit this facsimile of our book stacks? The allure of the unknown secondhand treasure of course! 

Not to sound too much like the Cheshire Cat, but one should come here to look, but not come here looking for anything in particular. Rather, used book sales encourage nosy perusal and, like an earbud-free walk through the park, are all about the journey. You take your time. You tilt your head. You skim through whatever your hand lands upon. And if you are lucky, something interesting finds you and you can take it home.

A FOL sale is where I myself discovered The Cat in the Mysteries of Religion and Magic by M. Oldfield Howey. While this particular withdrawal has lost its dust jacket and acquired some former cat lover’s pencil markings, the old BPL embossing, and scuffed edges give it character. The thoroughly researched subject matter and fascinating line drawings keep me picking it up time and time again.

“It is hard to realise the extraordinary fate that has been hers when we glance at the friendly, familiar figure of the household cat to-day. Could poet in wildest dreams have dared unfold a romance of Destiny to equal the veridical facts of her association with man? We think not.”

~ M. Oldfield Howey

Some of the sale books are no longer out circulating in the library’s collection, but most have been generously donated by patrons like yourself. Their covers range from brand shiny new to classic rebound and tumbled soft, but each has two stories — the one that is written and the one you are adding to by bringing it into your life. Or, when you spot a typography coffee table book that makes you think of your brother-in-law, someone else’s life. On that train of thought, I felt compelled to ask my coworkers what things they have scooped up at a used bookstore. 

Loosely organized around the phases of the moon and punctuated with references to ’70s astrology, architecture, and art, Moon Lists encourages journalers to stop and reflect on the precious moments in their lives before time passes them by. A set of evolving monthly writing prompts and suggestions for physical activities can be completed individually or with a partner, and will offer readers some perspective on the present and their recent past. –From the publisher

“My favorite secondhand book find was Moon Lists: Questions and Rituals for Self-Reflection by Leigh Patterson. This is a guided journal, and I was delighted to find it in “new” condition, completely blank and ready for my responses. But I was also sad that the original owner hadn’t written in it because I think it would have been fascinating to read someone else’s notes and observations.” 

~ Juliana, Public Service Associate

“I love finding (and collecting) my all-time favorite picture books. Some books are so good, I want to be able to read them anytime. I wonder what I’ll discover next!” 

~ Kelly, Youth Services Librarian
Now simple midweek suppers will taste like Saturday night. Milk Street has searched the world for simple techniques that deliver bold flavor in less time. Here, we present more than 200 solutions for bold weeknight cooking, showing how to make simple, healthy, big-flavor meals that come together in minutes using pantry staples and just a few other ingredients.
Milk Street: Tuesday Nights is organized by the way YOU cook. –From the publisher

“My best secondhand find was a copy of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: Tuesday Nights. It’s become my go-to cookbook and has some amazing recipes! They’re all fast, easy, and delicious. I’m very glad I found it when I did!” 

~ Owen, Public Service Associate

I understand the worry that buying used books affects authors’ potential earnings. But I think we can all agree that no-cost and low-cost reading is necessary and life-changing. It also feels good knowing this sale and The Friends of the Library, as a 501(c)(3), provide full financial support for the library’s Summer Reading Program along with funding for various programs, staff training and appreciation, and so much more. Our Friends also volunteer their time and advocate the mission of the Library. 💚

So, what treasures have you found at a sale? Do you love—or hate—the smell of old books? Head over to our Facebook or Twitter pages and share with us. See you at the sale!

2022 Fall Book Sale dates and times:

  • Thursday, November 10 – Friends only presale
    • 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm You are welcome to join anytime online, or at the door
    • 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm Open to the public 
  • Friday, November 11
    • 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Saturday, November 12
    • 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Sunday, November 13 – Half Price Day
    • 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm