The first Planned Parenthood Book Sale in Des Moines was held in 1961. My grandmother patronized it in the late ’60s and early ’70s.
Now my cousin and I patronize it.
In its 52nd year, it takes place this weekend, Oct. 10-14, at the Iowa State Fairground, 4-H Building, in Des Moines. You can spend hours browsing the 600,000 books, CDs, DVDs, records, VHS tapes, games, puzzles, posters and collectibles.
This kind of history makes me wish I were a Des Moines native.
We went to the sale on Opening Night. My “role model cousin” (whom I haven’t written about before) was volunteering. I should volunteer, but I don’t. I can’t add, so I can’t be a cashier, and I’m not particularly good at carrying boxes. No, I know myself. I am the chatty kind of volunteer who stands around and tries to persuade customers to read Jane Gaskell’s comical Atlan fantasy quintet instead of, or as well as, The Complete Works of George Orwell. Far better for me to push a cart slowly through the aisles, load it up with books, and spend $50-$100.
Last night I found many of John O’Hara’s books. My husband came over to tell me John O’Hara is terrible. He didn’t think I should waste my time on John O’Hara. I loved Butterfield 8, and have been looking for O’Hara’s books for years. I said I intend to read nothing but John O’Hara for the next year. At least I wasn’t buying Georgette Heyer’s romances. Not that I don’t enjoy these.
I struck out on Viragos. Somebody must have beat me to them.
I couldn’t find any new Cathy cartoon books either. We apparently have all the Cathy books. Here my husband poses (insisting that I cut his head off) holding my favorite Cathy book:
Please! Why don’t they (come with instruction booklets)?
Here is a picture of some of my books (and, honestly, this selection is not as good as last spring’s, though I’m still pleased):
Margery Sharp’s Martha in Paris (about a fat girl artist: I’m adoring it)
John O’Hara’s A Rage to Live
Three of Jane Gaskell’s Atlan quintet (which, by the way, I’m giving away: see bottom of post).
Richard Amour’s The Classics Reclassified (a humor book we think is very funny at our house)
Have It Your Way, Charlie Brown (to read over breakfast, when I am too bleary-eyed to face the paper)
Vita Sackville-West’s Seducers in Ecuador and The Heir (my sole Virago)
Charles Williams’s The Place of the Lion (he’s a C. S. Lewis type)
Kind of an odd night: in the classics section I found mainstream Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, and many, many copies of Anna Karenina instead of the odd Ruth Suckow, Gogol, Bess Streeter Aldrich, Trollope, or George Meredith I go to collect.
I didn’t make it to the non-fiction section(s),
At one point I laughed at a Great Books set: I was kicked out of Junior Great Books for not reading Treasure Island, and my husband also shudders at his memories of this earnest book group.
And now for the JANE GASKELL PROVE-YOU’RE-A-GIRL GIVEAWAY. This comical, charming, sometimes erotic, feminist fantasy series was recommended by Ms. magazine in the ’70s, and if you want to win this series, you must prove to me that you’re female (and of course I already know many of you are, so you don’t have to prove it). The heroine, Cija,a princess in a tower, has been told men don’t exist. When her mother suddenly recants and tells her she must flirt with and then assassinate, General Zerd, a blue scaly man whom you will find sexy, she is in a dilemma. How does one flirt anyway? She has lots of funny, exciting adventures: I found three of the five books and knew some of you would like these: The Serpent (Vol. 1), The Dragon, (Vol. 2) and The City (Vol. 3). If you would like one or all of the books, leave a comment. I adore these, and they’re hard to find.
ADDENDUM. If you decide to come to the sale this weekend, here are a few other things to do in Des Moines: Gusto Pizza, The Dairy Zone (a good soft-serve ice cream stand), the Neal Smith Trail (bicycle and hiking), the Clive Trail, the houses on Kingman Blvd. (not too fancy, but still exactly where you’d want to grow up), Friedrich’s Coffee, the Highland Park Bakery (champagne cake, doughnuts), Smokey Row (David Byrne wrote about it when he was here), and Grey’s Lake (I don’t see the attraction of this man-made lake, but it is a Des Moines institution).