Archives For Newtown Book Sale

Bags ready? Set to find great bargains? Go to Newtown, Connecticut, for the Friends of the C.H.Booth Library where over 100,000 books, records, DVDs go on sale annually. Their book sale always marks for me the beginning of the book sale season. This year’s starting date was July 12, 2014.

For the first time, I went on the admission day ($5) and used extra help (husband & son) to follow me with bags. Even then, I was too late to get the 20 or so copies of The Great Gatsby I saw someone packing up at the check out counter. My son noted that I also missed out on copies of of The Hunger Games Trilogy selections.
“The woman was only four feet away from you when I saw her stuffing them in her bag,” he claimed, “but I wasn’t going to tackle her.”

Fortunately, thanks to the diligent efforts of what looked like a small army of volunteer Friends of the Library, the tables were well organized by genre and author. I was able to get multiple copies of the 12th grade summer reading book, A Walk in the Woods.. In addition, I filled bags with the required summer reading for Advanced Placement English Literature including:
Little Bee, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and
Bel Canto. I also found copies for the grade 10 world literature library including The Places in Between, The Life of Pi, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, and A Long Way Gone.
There were also books to add to classroom libraries for independent reading including Dairy Queen, Elsewhere, and a pile of books from the Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series.


Counting Books at the check-out with the friendly volunteer


Five bags of books for classroom libraries for $229.00; a bargain!

The book sale at Newtown is a model of efficiency. There is room to move between tables, the books are properly sorted by genre ( for the most part) and the volunteer help is cheerful and efficient.

“You must be using these in a school?” suggested the woman checking us out as she counted out 20 copies of The Help.
“Actually,” my son replied feigning seriousness, “we really like this book….we’re going to read every single copy.”
“Oh,” she started, and then smiled,”you’re terrible…”

What is not terrible is that I spent $229 for over 80 books; some of them core texts and some for independent reading.
The summer book sale season helps me put books in the hands of readers. The Newtown Friends of the Library book sale does that extremely well.

The Friends of the C.H. Booth Library Book Sale in Newtown, Connecticut, was opened this weekend, and the used book business was good! This is one of the premier books sales in the state: well-organized tables filled with excellent quality used books, lots of attentive check-out staff, and great prices. This year, I attended on Sunday, the day after the big rush, and there were plenty of bargains to be had for classroom teachers since the large crowds on Saturday had left something for the discriminating shoppers the following day.

The 38th Annual Book Sale is held from Saturday, July 13, to Wednesday, July 17, 2013, at the Reed Intermediate School, 3 Trades Lane Newtown, CT 06470

HOURS: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (all items full price)
9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday (half price) and Tuesday ($5 a bag)
9:00 a.m. to 12 noon Wednesday (free).

Glass Castle coverThe paperback trade table is always my first stop, and the titles were alphabetized and arranged spines facing in the same direction for easy browsing. I immediately grabbed the remaining 21 copies of Jeanette Walls’s The Glass Castle for the English IV Memoir class. This book retails for $9.85; twenty-one new copies would have cost $206.85 as compared to the $21.00 I spent. Walls’s memoir of her childhood captures any reader’s interest on the first page when, on her way to a fancy dinner party, she spots her mother “rooting through a dumpster.” The following chapters chronicle Walls’s survival through childhood at the hands of her brilliant, but mentally unstable, alcoholic parents. The riveting story is one of the required readings for the Memoir class.

There were also multiple copies of Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street, two copies of Elie Wiesel’s Night, and three copies of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. Over in the drama section, there were newish Folger Library copies of Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet.

From the classic fiction table I selected several different editions of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectation, all in excellent condition; our freshmen honors students can handle working from different page numbers in class. Over in young adult (YA) fiction, a friend pointed out two copies of Sharon Draper’s Copper Sun, a book I have been looking to add to Grade 11 American Literature. This is an easy read, but with extremely mature subject matter that is bound to bring about interesting discussions..

A quick trip into the other large all-purpose room where children’s books and non-fiction are available, and I found four copies of Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, a non-fiction read that we are using in a mandatory English IV unit. Bryson’s journey through some of the Appalachian Trail is a hilarious read, and we intend to relate this trip with the journey student have completed after 13 years of education.

So what sociological study can be applied to this book sale? If the tables loaded with books donated by residents from Newtown could talk, they might say that Newtown residents:

  • Believe in providing their children with books at every age level;
  • Have enough “Chick Lit” books to warrant a separate table;
  • Have enough animal books to divide them into categories: “pets”, “farm animals”, etc;
  • Prefer paperback trades to hardcover fiction;
  • Have a respectable amount of mystery books;
  • Enjoy books about sports.

If there was any criticism, it must come in the form of their (intentional or unintentional) relentless promotion of one title: Seabiscuit. For some inexplicable reason, Laura Hillenbrand’s non-fiction award-winning book about the award-winning race horse was mixed in with almost every genre. As I shopped, I noted several copies in trade fiction, one copy in classic fiction, three copies in memoir, several copies in animals, one in psychology, and one copy in with the Star Trek series. Perhaps, they were try to interest readers of every kind in this great story?

Three bags full

Three bags full of books for $152.00

I ended up spending $152.00 for three FULL bags of books (see photo). This is $54.85 less than I would have spent on the 21 copies of The Glass Castle books had they been new copies. Three bags of books for classroom libraries for independent and assigned reading left nestled comfortably in the back of my car waiting for September.

Thank you, Friends of the C. H. Booth Library in Newtown, CT. Your efforts help keep students reading, extending the reach of your community!

PS: The friend who went to the book sale with me also reported a “find” in the books she purchased. When she got home, she noticed the almost new copy of Eloise was signed by the illustrator Hilary Knight!

Books alphabetized by author wait for buyers

A cultural anthropologist reviewing the trade paperback fiction tables at the C.H. Booth Public Library Book Sale would conclude that there are book clubs in thriving in Newtown, CT…many, many, many book clubs.  This book sale is one of the highlights in my summer book collecting schedule because of the amount of duplicate fiction titles available which indicates that people have read the book at the same time, and then donated it in order to make space for newer titles. This sale is also one of the best organized library book sales in the area.

This is an indoor sale which eliminates chances for inclement weather and book damage. The large tables are well organized in rows using the public space (gyms, multi-purpose rooms) of the Reed Intermediate School (off Route 25) effectively. There are many signs placed strategically around town to make finding the sale easy for drivers.

Fiction is in the large gym; the multi-purpose room holds non-fiction and children’s books, and smaller classrooms are used as holding areas or more expensive/rare texts. There is just enough space to negotiate around tables without becoming physically intimate with other book buyers. Buyers can place selected books in a holding area, and there is no limit to the amount of books one can “hold” before checking out. The lobby holds the checkout area which is spacious enough for several tables. Volunteer cashiers will work on large orders which keeps the traffic for smaller book purchases flowing. Students who need to complete community service will help pack and carry books. Prices are reasonable- from $.50-2.00/book. There was a $5.00 admission fee for the first day, but that was not enough to discourage buyers. Parking was impossible with every spot snapped up after the 1st hour of the sale. I had to park on a side street around the corner from the school.

In total, I spent $809.00. I lost count around book #554, but I would guess that I have at least 700 books from the sale.

Jody Picoult texts all in a row!

The nicest feature of this sale is the organization of fiction. The trade paperbooks are organized by author’s name which makes finding duplicate texts for the classroom a breeze to find. Since I recognize many of the books by their covers, I have no trouble

locating and scooping up 10 copies of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, or six copies of Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees. These are both books that are core texts that will be taught.

Oprah Book Titles-Core Texts!

There was also an Oprah Book Club section where I could load up on more core texts:  Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country, and and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.

I also found sets of Kaye Gibbon’s Ellen Foster, Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper and Nineteen Minutes, and Gregory Macguire’s Wicked for the 11th grade Coming of Age unit.

This year’s TEEN section was very profitable. Here I found a boxful of Scott Westerfield titles: Pretties, Uglies and Specials and a few copies of Nancy Farmer’s House of the Scorpion to add to my dystopia unit. I also found copies of Suzanne Fisher Staple’s Shabanu, a number of Anthony Horowitz Stormbreakers, and six copies of SE Hinton’s The Outsiders for 8th and 9th grade.

The non-fiction room is not organized by author, and I have made the conclusion that Newtown does not read much non-fiction. The biography/authbiography table was small; history (American/military/politics) was limited, although I did get several copies of Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead and Robert Kurson’s Shadow Divers. Luckily, some volunteer misplaced (or maybe correctly placed?) copies five of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried on the table labeled “War”. I grabbed those so enthusiastically, I frightened a book dealer who was pouring through a pile of WWII books. All in all, the non-fiction choices, while excellent, were not as numerous as those choices in the fiction room.

In contrast, the tables for children’s literature were overflowing almost to the point of breaking. Boxes under the tables were also filled with texts. Volunteers kept refreshing the tables with books, and some of volunteers were savvy enough to keep book series titles together. The most heartening sight were the many parents and their children making selections together; one girl had a stack so high that she could hardly see around them. Seeing all the children’s books (picture books, learn to read books, series, etc)  available would lead the cultural anthropologist to conclude that reading starts early in Newtown….and continues in the many book clubs that are culturally thriving in this part of the state.