As promised, my beautiful wife and I attended the St. Charles Book Fair this year for the third year in a row. Last year, my beautiful wife was also my very pregnant wife, so this marked the first time we ventured to the convention center was a trio instead of a duet.
The book fair is apparently becoming more popular, as it was more crowded this time out. A large number of people stopped to socialize with each other in front of the tables of books, too. Popularity and population make book fairs annoying. I mean, what’s with the people who review these tables from left to right. Don’t you realize it’s easier to read the spines if you move from left to right? I jumped large sections of tables when encountering the meandering throng of people after something in particular instead of avaricious book hoarders like me. I mean, when you want something for sure, go to eBay or something. Don’t spend hours lingering over the mystery table hoping you’ll find a first edition of A is for Alibi. You probably won’t.
The selection was good, though. Perhaps slightly too good. The volunteers continued to put out books as space opened on the tables. As you know, this discourages the seriousish collector in me, as I will automatically assume I’ve missed stuff and accellerate my browsing when I see that no matter how dilligently I review all titles, I will have missed something by the dint of its addition after I passed. Brutha, that’s too much like professional software quality assurance, my day-to-day existence, for me.
Still, I found a pile of middle McBain era books (Heat, Tricks, Bread, Mischief) and an Evan Hunter crime novel (Criminal Conversation). I picked up two John D. MacDonalds (More Good Old Stuff, a second collection of short stories in hardback and The Lonely Silver Rain, a late Travis McGee novel I bought because it was a 3rd printing and although I suspected I have a 1st printing, at $2 a hardback, it cannot hurt to be sure). I picked up some unknown bit (State’s Evidence because it had a cool cover and I already had picked up a box I needed to fill), the sequel to The Total Woman, a couple of Neil Simon’s plays (but I didn’t buy the one by Tom Stoppard that I saw), a couple of mysteries by old school mystery writers Ellery Queen and Rex Stout, a nonfiction book by Mike Lupica, a book of predictions for the next 20 years written in 1980, a book on how to fix audio and visual equipment, a Where Are They Now book written in the late 1960s which could better be cast as Who Remembers These People in the 21st Century (James Lileks for one and perhaps me in a couple months), and a book entitled Overlooked Treasures about collectibles that few people collect.
You can see I was somewhat discriminating in mysteries, but once the box started filling up, my threshold for purchase dropped as it usually does. I limited myself to one box, fortunately. The book fair offers dollies, and if one of the volunteers had seen me schlepping 40 pounds of books and offered me another box and a dolly, well, let’s just say the stacks below would have been taller.
Here’s the result, $67 dollars later:
That’s 27 books for me, 10 for Mrs. Noggle, and a collection of 10 cent audiocassettes that will provide our iTunes with a massive influx of 80s music (and, judging by the presence of an Eric Carmen tape, plenty of flashbacks for me).
So this weekend I bought half as many books as I read this year. Which means that I’m somewhere like 60 books in deficit now.