The Planned Parenthood Book Sale, The Wrong Box, & Audiobooks

Volunteers getting ready for the Planned Parenthood Book Sale

We went to the Planned Parenthood Book Sale,  which is held  biannually at the 4-H Building (45,000 sq. ft)  on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

It is a family tradition.  My grandmother used to attend the sale.  She filled her shelves with 19th-century editions of Thackeray, Dickens, and George Meredith. I was awed: why, oh why didn’t I live in Des Moines?

And now it’s our turn to support Planned Parenthood.

Tonight we staggered home with a box of splendid books, among them Edna O’Brien’s The Little Red Chairs,  the Native American writer Linda Hogan’s neglected novel Solar Storm, books by Ted Mooney, Marge Piercy, Nina Berberova, Stephen Dixon, and Amy Tan, and a dictionary.

But I had another reason to attend: I wanted to buy my own books back.

This spring, my husband donated the wrong box to the sale. This kind of muddle regularly happens in our distracted household.   Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I discovered the mix-up.  Gone were some of my favorite books:  Library of America editions of Louisa May Alcott and  Laura Ingalls Wilder, a Penguin Galaxy hardback copy of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, 1992 Modern Library hardcovers of Dostoevsky, and God knows what else.

I lamented.  But you know what I say:  Get over it!

The Oxford (left) and  Modern Library (right) edition of “Crime and Punishment”

I  found one of my books at the sale:  the 1990s Modern Library hardcover copy of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, translated by Constance Garnett.  And it is a relief to have it back, because Nicholas Paternak Slater’s translation reads like English in translation (the Oxford hardcover is gorgeous, though).

Well, it’s all for a good cause!  I’ll just have to make do or buy the books all over again.

WHO HAS TIME TO READ AUDIOBOOKS?

Anne Bogel’s podcast What Should I Read Next? is very enjoyable, because she is  well-read in many genres, comfortable interviewing people, and has a kind of alternative radio vibe.   In Episode 173,  “Clocking in at the reading factory,” she interviews Natalie Van Waning, a blogger who  has decided to read long books this year.

Whether you love or hate long books, you’ll enjoy the discussion.  What constitutes a long book  anyway?   (My husband says 500 pages, I say 600.)  And what’s on Natalie’s TBR? John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of her selections.

And then they digressed a bit about audiobooks.  Does listening to an audiobook count as reading?  Yes, they say.  And I’m sure it does  but I admit I have never listened to an entire audiobook.

Years ago, I tried listening to one of Paul Theroux’s travel books while I did the dishes.  But it was so absorbing that I simply bought the book and finished it!

And I tried to listen to one of Elizabeth George’s mysteries while I walked, but the noise of traffic drowned it out.

Do I need better headphones?  Perhaps it’s as simple as that.  I don’t even have an iPod.

What equipment do I need?  Please advise.

Book Sales & Crumbling Paperbacks

My new book bag.

Every year we go to the Planned Parenthood Book Sale.

The books had been plundered and pillaged by the time we got there on the second night.  The  classics were down to a few Dickens and Brontes.  This is a slight exaggeration.

I had a sinking feeling I’d gone to the sale too many times.  We filled a book bag instead of a box.  I’m happy to have bought fewer books, though, because I have FINALLY shelved all my books and don’t want clutter.  But why go if there is nothing unusual?  I found a few in the trade paperback section.  I haven’t read this novel by Julia Glass, who won the National Book Award in 2002 for Three Junes.  And who doesn’t like David Lodge’s satires?

But, really, we have to find more book sales in the midwest.  Where have all the good books gone?

 REPLACING CRUMBLING PAPERBACKS!

Some of my  paperbacks have fallen apart.  Not surprisingly, my Washington Square paperback of Jane Eyre (the first I had) is no longer readable.

Traditionally I’ve been a paperback person, but in 2017 I got hooked on Folio Society books.  A group of friends and I purchased some FS books for a round robin.  We were co-owners and traded them back and forth.

We logged our reading time.  No reason.

My friend’s daughter, who had just gotten out of rehab,  kept a journal because she was supposed to try to change her behavior.  And she said she read enough to cut  half an hour to forty-five minutes from her phone time. Pretty good for anyone!

The Folio Society books were overall a good influence. Who needs to read the latest Booker Prize winner when we’re busy with the FS edition of Jude the Obscure?   My discovery?  I started rereading the classics because the books were so attractive.. I especially recommend the beautiful edition of Wuthering Heights, with an introduction by Patti Smith and illustrations by Rovina Cai.

A Penguin Hardcover Classic of “Bleak House” and coffee.

The FS books will last, but I’ve been musing:  how long will my other hardbacks?  Will my cute affordable Penguin hardback classics last for 50 years?  I am a fan of Coralie Bickford’s  cover designs, especially the birdcages on the cover of Bleak House (think of Miss Flite). And these  books are good value:  usually under $20.  The print is a nice size and the paper is sturdy.

But perhaps we are not meant to sit in bed and hold Bleak House in one hand while we slurp coffee.  The cover of Bleak House took a beating!  And, oops, a coffee stain on one of the pages.

Has anyone bought Knickerbocker flexibound classics?  They’re on sale at Barnes and Noble for $10.  They look very cute, with a flexible cover and a strap that closes it like  a Moleskine notebook.  I have read most of the titles, though.

I buy strictly reading copies. (Well, except for the FS splurge.)   Should we buy paperbacks or hardbacks for replacements?  Or do you buy first editions?