News and Features

home | metro santa cruz index | features | santa cruz | feature story

Mayhem in Mass Fiction

Jaime Nabrynski girds her loins for the library's annual book sale.

By Jaime Nabrynski

THE RULES sounded simple. The flier for the "Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries HUGE Civic Book Sale" on May 30 spelled out the following: 1. No book hoarding or scooping of more than 15 books at a time. 2. Books left unattended (unless placed at the HOLD BOOKS table) would be returned to the sales tables. A third disclaimer warned against "table jostling."

Table jostling? After mulling over the various implications of those words, I called the library to ask about sales years prior, half-expecting stories of bruised ribs and broken limbs after a book lovers' battle to the death for the last copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but the woman on the other line wouldn't dish. She did offer a piece of advice: "Get there early."

My mother--the tough cookie who got me front stage at a Green Day concert back in eighth grade--was in town, the perfect accomplice. The Civic Center was still swarmed when we arrived over an hour late on Saturday morning. The smorgasbord of cookbooks, mystery, sci-fi and romance novels was more bounteous than I had imagined. I was impressed by the mom who figured out each of her children could carry 15 books, the wife who piled heavy hardcovers into the arms of a devoted husband and other stealthy scooping tactics.

I lost Mum somewhere in the Travel section and lost myself in Mass Fiction. Flipping through Janet Finch's Paint It Black while simultaneously maneuvering the leaning tower of Tom Clancy, I gathered, was becoming a dicey affair. I noticed a woman in a blue vest on my trail like my roommate on the Twilight series, grunting as she repositioned every book I had sifted through.

Was I hoarding? The pain in my wrist, which I'd slightly fractured two weeks ago playing softball, told me I was. I surrendered three books, and the woman left me alone. It was time to charm the meter maid, and only 10 minutes before the sale closed at 1pm for lunch. It was after we walked away with our spoils (20 pounds of books for $30) that the man who rang us up informed me of their 2pm deal: all the books you could fit into one bag for just $5. However, if I had waited until 2pm, my trip down memory lane with Judy Blume would have no doubt been snatched up by the merciless competition--the 12-year-old girl behind me in line.

Send a letter to the editor about this story.