Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Book Sale!

After a two-year hiatus, we’re once again holding our charity used book sale at work. If you have a really incredible memory, you may remember how this works from the last time I wrote about it: We collect used books from employees and books that are lying around our offices, and we sell them to other employees, with the proceeds going to a charitable foundation.

A couple of years ago we made more than $40,000. But that was in our previous office building, where we had a well-oiled system for collecting, sorting, shelving and selling the books over a whole week. This year we’ll make much less because we’re starting from scratch in our new headquarters -- we collected fewer books and we have only three days to sell them.

Still, so far, we’re doing well. I spent lots of time over the last several weeks helping to collect and sort thousands of books, including this past Saturday and Sunday. Yesterday was the first sale day, and it continues today and tomorrow.

The big fringe benefit of working at the book sale is that I get first dibs on browsing the books! Here’s what I’ve bought so far:

-- “The Deep Blue Good-by,” by John D. MacDonald. A master of Florida fiction!

-- “I Know This Much is True,” by Wally Lamb.

-- “The Underminer: Or, the best friend who casually destroys your life,” by Mike Albo with Virginia Heffernan. (It’s a humor book, though it may not sound like it, and Albo is hilarious.)

-- “Surrender or Starve: Travels in Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea,” by Robert D. Kaplan.

-- “Joe Gould’s Secret,” by Joseph Mitchell. (A profile of an eccentric New Yorker.)

-- “Through the Children’s Gate,” by Adam Gopnik. (A New Yorker writer and his family move back to New York City from Paris, just before Sept. 11, 2001.)

-- “Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life,” by Adam Gopnik.

-- “Consider the Lobster,” essays by David Foster Wallace.

-- The collected stories of John Cheever.

-- “New York State of Mind,” photographs of New York in the 1970s by Martha Cooper.

-- “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” by Richard Bach. (OK, it’s cheesy, but I have a sentimental affection for this quintessentially ‘70s book -- and it was just 50 cents!)

That should keep me reading for a while! I’ll probably keep very few of these books -- they’ll go back to charity after I finish them. (Martha Cooper and Jonathan L. Seagull are keepers.)

Anyway, I’ll let you know how well the sale fares!

(Photo: The graffiti artist known as Booker or Reader admonishes people to "Read More!" and often paints images of books. Lower East Side, July 2008)


  1. Sounds like a lot of fun for a good cause! You will love Joe Gould's Secret, especially because of where you live. I read She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb and was not terribly impressed, but his books in general get rave reviews. Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a classic. Happy reading!

    Have you all decided where to donate the proceeds this year?

  2. They always go to the same place, the Neediest Cases, a charity run by the New York Times Foundation.

  3. I forgot all about Jonathan Livingston Seagull. That was so important when I first read it. I wonder if you'll find it funny now.

    All the other books sound fantastic. You'll have plenty to read this summer, that's for sure!

  4. Hey Steve,

    The necessary copies were re-organized and dispensed to the tax person, who looked, and terribly chagrined, admitted to an error for which she will pay. She also disagrees with further assesments by the IRS and will submit corroborating documentation. This needs to be done before the first of the month and then the IRS may dispute her disputation. Stay tuned...

    Your book sale sounds fab and so do your books. If you want to read them and then find a home for the non-keepers, I'd read them when you're done. I'd even be happy to give a small donation to the paper's foundation if I have anything left.

    Thanks for visiting my Blog.