Used-book harvest

At first, it simply didn’t register. I kept staring at her, waiting patiently to be announced the total price. Then Beloved broke the awkward silence by asking “excuse me, how much?”. Then the three smiling Friends of the Ottawa Library (that is not a sect) repeated in chorus: “one dollar!”.

I just looked at them in disbelief.

I watched the $5 bill Beloved had previously taken out of his wallet to pay the five second-hand books passed from his hand to the volunteer cashier. It disappeared in the metal box and two $2 coins soon emerged. No no no no no cried my conscience. When you love books, said a little book-angel fluttering around my head, you don’t buy five books in near perfect condition for just a loonie. I intercepted the coins and tossed one of them back in the cash box.

I still feel bad I didn’t donate both.

Today was Mini-Mammoth day. I don’t know how a prehistoric pachyderm from the Arctic relates to books, but since the walk to get there nearly turned us into living icicle (it’s -17°C / 1.4°F today), I think the name is perfectly relevant. The Mini-Mammoth is a monthly event organized by the Friends of the Ottawa Library. It takes place from 10am to 2pm at the James Bartleman Center, a five minutes (freezing) walk away from the Nepean library branch. It’s full of books: French and English; fiction and non-fiction; from hard-cover to mass-market paperback. Most of the books are from very good to near perfect condition, and it will cost you as low as $1 to purchase up to five fiction books. Oh, and did I mention the money goes directly to support the Ottawa public library?

If you live in Ottawa, you must come and have a look. Visit the association’s website to check the next scheduled Mini-Mammoth event.

Mini-Mammoth Ottawa - used books sale

Stay here, I’m not done.

The same BFF of the Ottawa Library and (from now on) of mine are also running second-hand bookstores. At the Main library, it’s hidden underground (all the more exciting, isn’t it?). There, you’ll find two elderly chatting and giggling and a ton of used books that people donated. Anything is yours for $1 to $2. The profit, once again, all goes to support the OPL, and apparently amount to $250 000 each year.

Today, we visited the used bookstore in the Nepean branch, since it was just next to the Mini-Mammoth place. We got three more books in perfect condition and paid… $3.

You can find the list of the Friends of the OPL’s bookstores here. Also, keep in mind that most of the OPL branches have a sale shelf somewhere (just treasure-hunt it. It is somewhere).

In a world where a book can cost anywhere from $10 to more than $30, the Mini-Mammoth events and those used-book stores make a real difference for a bookworm like me. I started to read and collect the CBC 100 books and to be honest, I couldn’t afford buying them $20 to $30 each. I don’t have the budget, I simply couldn’t do it. Being allowed to get these books second-hand for $1-$2 makes my little project possible.

So, my deepest thanks to you, dear Friends of the Ottawa Public Library.

Now, just to brag around, here are the books we bought today!

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

A recent discovery by Beloved. The type I might steal from him.

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

The other name for Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels is buy-on-sight. So.

Les Mémoires d'Hadrien de Marguerite Yourcenar

A classic from France. Got it for Beloved, who has been in a historical fiction mood recently.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I finally found the perfect edition of Jane Eyre! 1) I won’t dislocate a shoulder lifting it 2) I don’t need a magnifying glass to read it!

Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb

One CBC 100 books more, one!

Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatie

A CanLit novel taking place in Ethiopia. I’m very interested in the setting!

The Underpainter by Jane Urquhart

I already have a book from this author (Away, which is one of the CBC 100). I decided a second one wouldn’t hurt.

The Portable Twentieth-Century Russian Reader

This is a pick by Beloved. Dont’ ask.