I went to a garage sale – my first one! – that I hunted down on Craigslist and was supposed to have lots of nice, old books. There were some lovely old pieces of furniture and boxes of quite old books. Displayed on a folding table were the prettiest books, old book club copies from the fifties, sixties and seventies. If you remember my post about Dragonwyck, you know I love the cheesy-style of old dusk jackets, and looking at this book-covered table was like looking at a pastel-colored marshmallow variety pack.
Most were one dollar, though some were more. I chose one by Susan Howatch, whose work I haven’t read yet. It ended up being more than I’d expected, but still not a lot. I wanted it because I’d gotten another by her from about the same time and in a similar at the public library sale. I also got something by Taylor Caldwell (an author I’d heard of as a child reading a picture book on Atlantis – strange, huh?), Elizabeth Goudge (who I heard of from a writing friend), and Daphne du Maurier. Then, there were tons of obscure stuff. My criteria for buying was ‘Is it pretty?’ and ‘Does it seem interesting?’. One is called How to Make the Most of Wife which might be really funny or really infuriating: it’s dedicated to husbands who have wife problems, and it’s by a woman. I’ll risk it for a dollar on a book that, thankfully, wouldn’t get published today.
So, I spent my afternoon judging books by their covers. It’s more fun than its bad rep would make you think. I’d pay a dollar for a nice postcard, so why not get the chance of a good story with it? Plus, there are the fun author bios with all these unknown mid-century photos of men in horn-rimmed glasses and women in A-frame dresses, all with typewriters. What book person wouldn’t love that?