Used Book Magic

Do you believe there’s magic in used books?   I’ve had incredible experiences calling books to me over the years.  Today was yet another.  I’ll share some of my favorite book magic stories.  If you have some of your own, send them and I’ll post them!

I’d always regretted giving away the Navajo Language book that Dick and I studied on the Reservation in Arizona in the 1970’s. We thought our hospital replacements would benefit from having it, but I realized too late I’d given away an irreplaceable treasure of Navajo phrases and vocabulary.  Fast forward five years to the basement of Cody’s Bookstore on Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley.  I was looking over a table of used children’s books when my eye was caught by a red book perched atop  a stack of children’s picture books.  As my hand reached for it, I knew what it was:  Navajo Made Easier by Irvy Goossen.

Then there’s the book from my childhood I wanted to read to my daughters, but couldn’t remember the title – only that it was of a young girl who collected butterflies in the woods.  I’d given up, when one day, while checking out books at the Grass Valley Children’s Library, an elderly woman set a stack of old books on the counter to donate.   Impulsively, I reached around her and turned the bindings  to see the titles, and there it was:  Girl of the Limberlost, by Gene Straton-Porter.  I had to fight the librarian for it (she collected rare old books), but a donation to the library made it mine.

Some books have been nearly thrust into my hands.  I’d just returned from my youngest sister’s memorial service in Canada and was headed toward a much-needed latte, when I made an unusual  right turn and ended up in Tome’s Books and Sierra Roasters in Grass Valley. With mug in hand, I wandered the stacks until I found a chair in a dark corner.  Mindlessly, I reached up and pulled out a paperback:  Life on the Other Side by Sylvia Browne. It was as if my sister wanted me to know…..

So today I was again at Tomes (my favorite used book store). As I waited to see what books Eric would buy from me (for credit of course), my hand reached out for an orange workbook in the Reference Section.  Book in a Month by Victoria Schmidt.  Voila!  Exactly what I needed to get my novel moving along.  It’s one thing to have a story in your head and quite another to be organized enough to move through all the steps of crafting a compelling novel.   I have thirty days to finish my first draft, starting February 1st.  Be sure and ask me how it’s going!