Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Book Sale Recap, Part 1

As I alluded to last week, I spent one of my days off from work paying a visit to the largest and longest running book sale on the East Coast.

Not only is it the largest used book sale, but it turns out that it's also one with a really interesting history. Begun in 1931, the Bryn Mawr-Wellesely Book Sale started as a way to raise scholarship money to help girls attend college during the Great Depression. The tradition continues on today with alumnae from both schools running the sale and donating proceeds to their respective scholarship funds. It's a week long event that's held at a fancy day school in Princeton, NJ. 

I took it as a good omen when I saw this statue outside the school building on the way in.

Filling two large rooms, the sale was well organized and, surprisingly, fairly empty, which translated into about two hours worth of leisurely but intense browsing.

I can't help but be struck by the fact that so many of the books I found at the sale were ones I may not have even noticed if it hadn't been for reading other book blogs and discovering some of the lesser known authors who are now among my favorites. The treasures I came away with included a bunch of vintage orange Penguins, Virago classics, and even a Persephone edition. Here's the full recap:

There were a lot of Penguins to be had and my selections included the nonfiction books A Narrow Street by Elliot Paul and One Pair of Feet by Monica Dickens, which I was thrilled to find after recently finishing her wonderful novel Mariana. The novels in the group included The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold by Evelyn Waugh, Ukridge by P.G. Wodehouse, The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley, and Girl with Green Eyes by Edna O'Brien.

For the times when I want to get lost in a really fat novel, I picked up Camilla by Fanny Burney as well as two titles from Anthony Trollope's Chronicles of Barsetshire series. Although I've yet to read anything by Trollope, I have a copy of The Warden waiting on my shelf and have a sneaking suspicion I"m going to want to continue on with his works.

Even though it's not the most attractive edition, I couldn't pass up owning a copy of Olivia Manning's The Balkan Trilogy after enjoying it last year. I was even more excited to find another out of print novel by Manning called The Play Room and, of course, didn't even stop to read the title when I saw the signature grey of a Persephone edition--it went right into my bag. (Turns out it was An Interrupted Life: The Diaries and Letters of Etty Hillesum 1941-43, who is described as an adult counterpart to Anne Frank.)

Then there was an early novel by Booth Tarkington, two Muriel Spark novels, books by Rosamond Lehmann, E.M. Delafield, and Anita Brookner (none of whom I've read, but all of whom I've heard great things about), and another addition for my growing Barbara Pym collection

And those are just the paperbacks! Check back tomorrow for a look at the hardcover editions I found.


  1. my goodness! for a book lover, that's treasure. time, time, i keep thinking, how will you find the time to read them all? joy! n

  2. Wow! I have to say I am so jealous :-) You found some amazing treasures. I covet the Sparks, the Pym and the Persephone.



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