I went to the VNSA Used Book Sale last weekend (Phoenix’s largest used book sale) and faced rows and rows and rows and rows and rows and rows and rows of books to buy. One of the volunteers told me that there were about 600,000 books for sale that weekend.
600,000. A number that could be rounded up to, oh, a MILLION.
The VNSA volunteers do a fantastic job putting the whole thing together, but when you get to those kinds of numbers in one big consolidated weekend, there’s really no way to keep much organization.
Books were arranged in loose topics (cookbooks/science/fiction/etc), with some smaller subtopics sprinkled in (fiction=suspense/romance/mystery/sci-fi), but beyond that there wasn’t much.
No alphabetical ordering. No Dewey.
It was terrifying, but also a bit exciting at the same time. See, I’m all about the spreadsheet to-be-read list and the strategized library trips. Rarely do I go into a bookstore or library without having a list of the books that I want to get. It’s best that way because it keeps me from getting too many.
But, going into the VNSA with little more than a rough outline allowed for some of the off-the-wall browsing that can be so rewarding for readers as well. I picked my way through the health section, detoured into mythology, jumped over to classics, and then to cookbooks. I came. I bought books. Now, I will read.
All of this got me thinking about the importance of a bit of unleashed browsing in our book lives. Do you think it’s important? Do you hit the book store with a list or are you all wavy gravy about it?