The Rest

Book Club: Library Sale Edition

May 4, 2012

Last month I stumbled up on a used book sale at the library. I spent a glorious hour or so picking through books while I listened to two volunteer library sale staffers talk a little too loudly about some library gossip. Loved that part. Nothing like a little entertainment with your book shopping.

Anyway, I ended up with this stack of books, and when I shared the picture on Facebook, many of you shared how much you love used book sales too, which inspired this post.

Lots of reading for $10!

The great thing about buying books on the cheap is that it’s no big deal if you don’t like them.

I know there are two schools of though on this, but I’m squarely in the school that doesn’t finish books that I’m not into. There are so many books in the world and so little time.

But, the fates must have really been with me that day, because I’ve read two of the books so far and really liked them both.

No One You Know

The first was No One You Know by Michelle Richmond.

I’ll let Amazon tell you about the plot:

All her life Ellie Enderlin had been known as Lila’s sister—until the day Lila, a top math student at Stanford, was murdered, and the shape of their family changed forever. Twenty years later, Ellie is a professional coffee buyer who has never put down roots. When, in a chance meeting, she comes into possession of the notebook that Lila carried everywhere, Ellie returns home to finally discover the truth about her sister’s death—a search that will lead her to Lila’s secret lover, to the motives and fate of a man who profited from their family’s grief, and ultimately to the deepest secrets even sisters keep from each other.

I know, right?

A murder, a secret lover, and family secrets.

And if you’re someone who thinks math is best left behind in high school, don’t let the math thing scare you off. The book is written from the point of view of Ellie, the non-math sister, and it’s all an integral part of the story.

Besides, you kind of learn a little something too. Even if you don’t really want to. Like when you watched Schoolhouse Rock as a kid.

I really, really liked this book. And even though I guessed the murderer as soon as he/she appeared in the book (and felt pretty smug about it), it didn’t take away from my enjoyment at all.

The Good Daughters

The second book was The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard.

Again, I’ll let Amazon do the honors:

They were born on the same day, in the same small New Hampshire hospital, into families that could hardly have been less alike.

Ruth Plank is an artist and a romantic with a rich, passionate, imaginative life. The last of five girls born to a gentle, caring farmer and his stolid wife, she yearns to soar beyond the confines of the land that has been her family’s birthright for generations.

Dana Dickerson is a scientist and realist whose faith is firmly planted in the natural world. Raised by a pair of capricious drifters who waste their lives on failed dreams, she longs for stability and rootedness.

Different in nearly every way, Ruth and Dana share a need to make sense of who they are and to find their places in a world in which neither has ever truly felt she belonged. They also share a love for Dana’s wild and beautiful older brother, Ray, who will leave an indelible mark on both their hearts.

The story is told from Ruth’s and Dana’s points of view, in alternating chapters. That’s always something I find annoying at first, but once I’m reading doesn’t seem to bother me.

There are some surprises in this book and I totally didn’t see them coming. Probably because I was so smug about figuring out the murderer in No One You Know ahead of time. But, just like No One You Know, I found myself wanting to pick the book up each night, instead of watching The Colbert Report, and that’s the sign of a good book to me.

Now for the backstory…

Joyce Maynard’s name was familiar to me, but I’d never read any of her books and didn’t really know who she was. So after reading her bio on the book jacket of The Good Daughters I Googled her.

Holy cow!

She was in a relationship with J.D. Salinger when she was 18 and he was 53. It ended suddenly and badly.

Also, her son is an actor that I’m too old to have heard of, but my daughter probably has. And she (Joyce Maynard, not my daughter) adopted two girls from Ethiopia when she was 55 and then had to find them a new family two years later when the adoption didn’t go well.

It makes the twists in The Good Daughters seem pretty tame by comparison.

Real Life Book Club Books

The other reading I’ve been doing are the books from my real life book club.

The real-life story behind The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is compelling. I listened to the author talk about it for an hour or so on Book TV once and I was riveted.

But I was only able to get through about half the book before I felt I knew enough and was ready to move on. Amazon reviewers overwhelming loved it though.


Our new book is Loving Frank, about Frank Lloyd Wright’s affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney.

I’m just a few pages in and can tell I’m going to love it. The story is fiction, but based on as much research as the author, Nancy Horan, could find about the pair.


It reminds me of another fiction based on fact novel that our book club read and I enjoyed, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.

This time it’s about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, who may have been the great love of his life.


Blog Reading

And finally, you may remember Zac Bissonnette, who did a Q&A with us about his book, Debt-Free U. Zac has a new book out — How to Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-Looking Than Your Parents — and his publisher was kind enough to send me a copy.

At least I think it was kind.

Zac’s book is really aimed at readers the ages of my kids, which makes my husband and me the less rich, less smart, and not as good looking parents.

So here’s what I’d love to know:

  • Do you like used book sales?
  • Do you finish books if you’re not into them?
  • Read anything good lately?
This post is part of Booking It at Life As Mom.
  1. I rarely pay full price for a book anyway, but then I’m a librarian and believe in saving money using my public library! Public library book sales are only as good as the donated or withdrawn items themselves though! People often donate books thinking the library will add them and that’s almost never the case. It costs a few dollars in staff time for cataloging, labeling, etc that people never think of. Then people get mad that “their” book wasn’t added. Heartbreak and anger can be easily prevented by ASKING first if the library needs or wants the book. If they DO they will often put a “donated by” plaque in the book for you.

    Just a tip–but nobody wants the 60 years of National Geographic in your garage! lol….Maybe a few teachers might want SOME issues for special classroom projects–again ASK.

    I positively reviewed “Loving Frank” and “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” on my blog.

    1. Lisa, you’re a librarian? That’s one of my dream jobs! I hear you on the National Geographic. Same goes for the 1974 World Book Encyclopedias.

      My local library actually has two used book stores that they sell many donated books in. They also have a couple of used book sales a year. They sell the most valuable ones on eBay and Abe Books, which I think is brilliant. They pretty much take anything you want to give them.

      Heaven knows what they do with those National Geographics, though.

  2. I rarely read books. But I listen to them on CD – mostly while driving or doing felting projects which require me to be still and not make too much noice! So I checked out each of your recommendations above in our libraries website and found 3 to add to my waiting list (No One, Frank, and Paris Wife. Henrietta was already on my list) Thanks so much for posting these.
    I must admit, as a rule, I finish books. But as I get older, I’m realizing that time is finite!

    1. Teresa, one of our book club members listens to almost all of our books on CD. Let me know how you like the books when you get them.

      I admire you book finishers. You probably finish all the craft projects you start too, don’t you? I knew it!

      1. I started knitting an afghan at age 18 and finished it 20 years later! Mostly I finish, but lately I’ve found that I can give incomplete projects to younger people who are happy to have them and finish them. It brings me as much joy, maybe more, to pass them on.

  3. Oh Julie, you are too funny! I’m sorry you and your husband had to face reality like that ;) I don’t buy new books either and love a library book sale. We have a great number of bookstores that sell used books but my favorite is our store “Title Wave” which is open year round and sells library books. My 15yo son bought me a new book for Christmas this past year and I adored it – I think because he picked it out for me – “The Time Traveler’s Wife.”

    1. I love the name Title Wave! And your son has good taste. “The Time Traveler’s Wife” was very good.

  4. I love book sales! It’s like a treasure hunt, because you never know if the book will be so amazing you-just-can’t-put-it-down, or terribly disappointing. Sounds like you made out with a great haul though! The books sound really interesting. I’m also looking forward to reading Zac’s new book. I just started reading his first one, and think the second one will be just as good.

  5. re-finishing books you are not enjoying

    Nancy Pearl is a Seattle librarian who writes books about books. Her rule is that if the reader is not engrossed or interested enough to continue after 50 pages you are allowed to give up and start another book because there is not enough time in anyone’s life to read every book. I feel I have been given permission by an expert and now I am able to do that and suggest it to everyone !

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