Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Thousand Pages, Give or Take a Few

From time to time I have heard people complain that Toronto is a boring city. My response to this is that if you are bored here, you really aren't trying to have fun. There is a plethora of places to go and things to do. My friend Ron has been really good about making me more aware of what's out there. It was he that got us tickets to see the Dali Lama next week and he was also responsible for this bag of books that I just schelped home. 'Low me to 'splain!

Unbeknownst to moi, Trinity College holds an annual booksale to benefit their library. When Ron called me about it, I instantly thought of booksales I have been to in the past, slightly amateur affairs filled with forgettables and the occasional find. I thought the temptation to add to my already book-laden shelves was minimal at best. Au contraire!

The first clue that I might be playing with fire was the sign outside that stated the first day sale charged a $5 admission fare. (The succeeding days were free, much more my style.) Upon entering and paying the fee, I was strongly encouraged to take advantage of the free bag/coat check. Then we were directed to THE LINE. This was no ordinary line. Oh no. This was a line that had begun forming at 4 AM in the MORNING. (I kid you not!) We arrived at 4:30 PM, a half hour after the sale had begun. As the hall was filled to capacity, we waited close to 45 minutes for enough people to give up and go home so we could just get inside. While we were waiting, we studied the map (yes, a map) that we were given so we could plan out our strategy for getting in and getting out quickly. As it so often turns out, "the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray!"

Finally we were sent upstairs and picked up empty boxes on the way. Upon entering, my worst fears were realized. I had met my Waterloo. My months of abstaining from the aquisition of books were all for naught. I was about to fall off the wagon and into my old bookaholic behaviour. The room was huge and there were books upon books. There were books in boxes under the tables to replentish the books that were on the tables and above the tables in shelves. Every genre imaginable was lovingly represented and all organized with meticulous loving care. It really was a sight to behold. To make matters worse, the books were in amazing, almost new condition and most prices ranged from $2-7! (I would usually note this is in Canadian dollars but since our currency has been on par with the US greenback for weeks, I'm not going to even bother anymore.)

All in all, I was pretty proud that the damage to my pocketbook and my blungering book collection was minimal. Here's a list of what I walked away with: (Keep in mind there were folks around me that were buying multiple boxes of books and spending hundreds of dollars.)

1. The Glass Palace- Amitav Ghosh- Ron found this for me and recommended it. At seven dollars and a hardback to boot, this was my most lavish purchase.
2. The God of Small Things- Arundhati Roy- I have heard good things about this one and am looking forward to reading it.
3. Diary of a Lost Boy- Harry Kondoleon- I must have seen this when I was bookcruising with my cousin. For some reason I've flirted with this selection before. This time, I took the bait.
4. The Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse- edited by Stephen Coote- read a review of this in the paper. Fascinating look at poets from the beginning of time, articulating queer topics in poetic form.
5. The Well of Loneliness- Radclyffe Hall- This is at the top of every queer classic booklist I've ever read. Doesn't sound like much of an upper though, does it?
6. At Swim, Two Boys- Jamie O'Neill- This one Ron also recommended to me. Sounded good. Worth a shot .
7. The Seven Deadly Sins of Love (and other stories from the still unfabulous social life of Ethan Green)- Eric Orner- This queer comic I think is based in Toronto. I saw the movie first and didn't really like it. The book is, of course, much better. I love comics!
8. Men On Men- a collection of gay short stories. I love a good anthology from time to time and this one had some of my favourite authors.

There you have it my friends! All this for the low, low price of $28! Any suggestions on where to start eating...or rather reading?


Your cheapskate cousin said...

Shoot! I would have given you 'The God of Small Things'. I think I got it for a quarter at a yard sale.

It's funny, that I was actually shocked at how much you spent on 7 books. Yes, I'm really that cheap. I find all my books at Goodwill's clearance isle. :) The book I'm currently reading was 33 cents.

Then again, I couldn't find the gay literature for cheap, so that definitely is a score. :)

Toronto might be more cultured than Portland, but we definitely beat you when it comes to thrifty things. :)

connie said...

Wow! A twelve-hour line for a booksale is unbelievable. Your narrative described how I feel when J & G take me to Powell's. It's a book lover's feast....but it's now much more expensive than in the old days. I prefer to shop at Goodwill for books (I don't enjoy yard sales). I've also bought a few used books on Amazon. A bit more expensive for the shipping, but sometimes worth it to find something quickly.

Maxime said...

People should read this.