For as long as I’ve been in Chicago, I’ve pined after the chance to attend the Newberry Library’s annual book fair. Yet, somehow, things always got in the way. Finally, on Sunday, I was able to make the trek down to the gorgeous Newberry and partake of closing day of the 2010 book fair.
I’m a book person, and I’ve been to more than my share of bookstores, used bookstores, book fairs, book drives, estate sales, yard sales, libraries, and pretty much any other place where books can be obtained. One of these days I will make it to the Library of Congress, where I will probably curl up in a corner and die a happy lady, but .. I digress.
Surrounding me at said book fair were other book people.
Now, people who loves books as much as I do are not always the same sorts of people who have well-polished social skills. Being a book person doesn’t automatically make you witty or cool, despite how the movies might make it seem. Book people in films are always smart, and witty, and shy until their real personality has a chance to shine through. In reality, sometimes being a book person means you’re socially clueless and pushy. I was shoved aside by a lot of bags and peer pressured away from racks of books I really wanted to look at. At one point, I was delighting in a rack of travel books, until two middle-aged women came up and stood right behind me (like, bags shoving into me) until I moved away… and they stepped to where I’d been standing and proceeded to talk about their medical ailments and ignore the travel books completely.
I adore the Newberry, but the book fair really wasn’t the heaven on earth atmosphere I was expecting.
(This is absolutely no fault of the Newberry Library and their volunteers. The event was supremely well-organized and laid out. We were given a shopping bag and a map as we walked in the door, and everything was clearly labeled. I also have to hand it to the volunteers who literally went from room to room picking up books that people had dumped somewhere and return them to their rightful category/room. Not to mention, the collectors edition room was purely lovely – I saw a first edition, signed copy of “The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle,” which was one of my favorite childhood books. I nearly swooned.)
That said, I left with a total of six books for a whopping grand total of eleven dollars.
Among my finds were a fantastic book on the world’s toughest golf holes (a perfect gift for Dad, who arrives this weekend) and a book on the history of the Mame character, from the earliest writings to her Broadway musical beginnings (which, of course, is going to go to my dearest Bob).
In addition, I got a copy of James A. Michener’s supposedly epic novel, “Hawaii.” As I’m prepping for my first visit to the Hawaiian islands (in less than 3 weeks) I’ve been looking for a copy of this book.
And I found one.
And I started reading it, and it’s good – Basically it’s a loose historical fiction novel. Sort of like the history of Hawaii as told through the gauze of a Jacqueline Susann novel. A little campy, not really factual, but sweeping and romantic.
However, there’s a problem with this book.
Old books have a distinct smell.
Normally, I like said smell.
In the case of this copy of “Hawaii,” I can’t deal with it.
Seriously, I’m just going to have to go to Borders and get a new copy in order to finish reading. I’m about 100 pages into the novel, and I’m engrossed, and yet as I’m holding the book to read it the smell is surrounding me, and after I’ve put the book away I seriously need to wash my hands. I bet it used to belong to a smoker – it has a very specific lingering odor.
I mean, in all fairness, it was a dollar.
But yeah – I have been defeated by the smell of a book.
Defeated by a stinky book. There’s an obituary for you.