WILKES-BARRE — At some point during their week-long book sale, which begins on Friday with a “preview night,” the Friends of the Osterhout Free Library expect to hit the $500,000 mark.
“We’re very excited,” said Friends president Irene Martin, who expects patrons and volunteers will pause and rejoice when they realize the Friends have officially raised half a million dollars for the library during 42 years of book sales.
“It’s incredible, when you consider we’ve sold books for $1, or children’s books for a quarter or 10 cents,” said volunteer Elaine Schall.
Some of the books actually have a much greater resale value, Schall noted.
“It’s like being at a garage sale where you never know what you’ll find,” she said, glancing at a table of vintage volumes that were printed in the 1920s and ’30s. “We’ve had people come back and tell us they’ve sold a book from our sale on eBay for $50.”
But most book lovers would probably agree the real value isn’t in turning around and selling a book at a profit. It’s in savoring a book, sharing it, learning from it, and remembering that delicious moment when it first piqued your curiosity.
Consider the sentence, “My friend rabbit means well but whatever he does, wherever he goes, trouble follows.” Doesn’t that opening line of Eric Rohmann’s children’s book, “My Friend Rabbit,” make you want to sit down with one of your favorite children and find out what happens next?
Don’t worry if that Caldecott Award-winning book has already been sold by the time you get to the sale. The children’s table has been stocked with plenty of titles, ranging from fanciful tales such as “Strega Nona,” which introduces an old lady from Calabria whose nickname means “Grandma Witch,” to practical learning tools such as “Sophie Learns Spanish,” which uses pictures to show that “la mesa” is “the table” and “la lampara” means “the lamp.”
Are you interested in history? That’s always a popular category at the sale, Martin said.
As the sale was being set up earlier this week, books on the history table ranged from “Mysteries of the Middle Ages” to “Great Battles of World War II” to “Head Hunting in the Solomon Islands.”
Books on health ranged from the classic “Gray’s Anatomy” to “Disease Free at 60 Plus” to suggestions from Richard Shames, M.D., and Karilee Shames Ph.D., RN, on what to do if you’re “Feeling Fat, Fuzzy or Frazzled.”
The nearby self-help section included “The Idiot’s Guide to Dating” and “The Idiot’s Guide to Breaking Bad Habits,” but “Investing for Dummies” found its way into the financial section, along with “Your Recession Handbook” and “The Truth About Money.”
Vintage books included Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” printed in 1926, “Great Detective Stories,” printed in 1928 and “Lassie Come Home,” printed in 1940. There was even a copy of Charlotte Bronte’s “Villette,” which some critics prefer to her more well-known “Jane Eyre.”
Novelist Danielle Steele has an entire section devoted to her work, as do James Patterson and Steven King, and the Young Adults section included books about warrior cats, a dragon and her rider, and even all three books from Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” trilogy.
As for biographies, that table included glimpses into the lives of former First Ladies Laura Bush and Michelle Obama, cyclist Lance Armstrong, Presidents Harry S. Truman and Abraham Lincoln, football coach Joe Paterno, actress Katharine Hepburn, anthropologist Margaret Mead and many other people, including the wealthy Wilkes-Barre native and outrageous singer Florence Foster Jenkins.
Speaking of “outrageous,” the book “Heroic and Outrageous Women” might still be available when you reach the biographies. That volume tells of remarkable but less well known people such as the warrior queen Boadicea, who resisted Rome’s incursions into Britain in the first century, and “Queen of the Desert” Jane Digby, a British aristocrat who married a sheikh, embraced a Bedouin lifestyle and became an expert horse rider back in the 1800s.
If you want to get first crack at the books, your best bet might be to attend the “preview night” on Friday from 5 to 7:30 p.m. For an admission fee of $10, you get to take a sneak peek at the books and make purchases.
The preview will be followed by seven days of sales (every day except Sunday) through June 23. June 20 will be children’s day with entertainment and activities for kids, and June 23 will be the traditional “bag day” when patrons are encouraged to fill a bag or box of books.
Each day of the sale will hold some sort of surprise, Martin said with a mysterious smile. People will find clues if they check the library’s Facebook page each morning — and “head toward the balloons” when they come to the sale, she said.
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.