A Bookish Weekend in Des Moines: The Planned Parenthood Book Sale, Oct. 9-13

The Planned Parenthood Book Sale in Des Moines

The Planned Parenthood Book Sale in Des Moines

Ready to spend a bookish day in Des Moines?

The Planned Parenthood Book Sale takes place Oct. 9 to Oct. 13 at the 4-H Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. I can attest that it is possible to spend two to four hours browsing the 600,000 books, CDs, DVDs, records, VHS tapes, games, puzzles, posters and collectibles.

We try to go on Opening Night, or “Dealer Day,” as I call it.  When the sale opens at 4 p.m., the book scouts madly rush in with their electronic scanners beeping and buzzing.  One friend says “book scouts have ruined the sale,” and I admit I am nostalgic for the pre-scanner device years.   (Perhaps the scanner technology is silent by now:  I haven’t kept up.)  We show up  late because we don’t like being squished and joggled by book scouts.

Did I find anything tonight?

Of course I did.

Here’s a sampling:


Elena Ferrante’s The Story of a New Name ($3).

Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette?  ($3)

D. E. Stevenson’s Mrs. Tim of the Regiment ($4)


Dorothy Edwards’ Rhapsody ($1.50)


Trollope’s Why Frau Frohmann Raised Her Prices and Other Stories ($3)

Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March ($3)

Joyce Cary’s Mr. Johnson (50 cents)

H. G. Wells’ Secret Places of the Heart ($3.50)


Rumer Godden’s Black Narcissus ($1.50)

Thorne Smith’s Skin and Bones (75 cents)  (N.B.  Thorne Smith is the author of Topper)


Carolyn Keene’s The Secret at Shadow Ranch ($2, a 1931 edition with proper grammar and a more sophisticated style than the later “updated” editions)


Jean Moorecroft Wilson’s Virginia Woolf’s London:  A Guide to Bloomsbury and Beyond ($3)

A pretty good haul!

One assumes that some of the great books we missed will show up at Jackson Street Booksellers in Omaha.

P.S.  Afterwards you can grab a bite at Tursi’s The Latin King, a traditional Italian restaurant with 1950s decor (was the ceiling red, or did I dream that?), A Dong (a great Vietnamese restaurant), or, for the adventurous, Zombie Burger, where you can eat an “East Village of the Damned” (burger with blue cheese, caramelized onion, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo:  sounds dreadful).

6 thoughts on “A Bookish Weekend in Des Moines: The Planned Parenthood Book Sale, Oct. 9-13

  1. Part of me is so jealous that I am spitting little green pips and the other half is thinking how on earth do you ever find anything you want amongst such a mass of books. Oh, and my bank manager is thinking thank goodness she doesn’t live anywhere near there!


    • Alex, it is a lot of fun and I never get through all the books, but we came home with two boxes. Sometimes I even find “almost new” cookbooks but I didn’t even get to that section this year. The bank managers are probably all having fits.:)


  2. Cynthia, it IS a joy. It is a huge space and I certainly don’t get through everything, alas!

    Karen, it’s like Oxfam times I don’t know the number. I never find what I’m looking for, but I always find a lot of books.

    Nancy, I will gladly look around for you at the next sale in the spring. Let me know what you want and I’ll send it to you.:)


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