By now, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve accurately and thoroughly communicated just how much I j’adore books; further proof would be the inside of my house, where every room showcases a thoughtfully curated pile of reading material: In the living room, oversized books on photography and fashion; in the guestroom (where my visiting brother stays), Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity and Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto; in the bathroom (well, let’s be honest), US and In Style magazines. Nevertheless, the true testament is the room I lovingly call “my library,” which is stacked high with books of every genre, from fiction and poetry, to personal essays and memoirs, to sports writing and history, to plays, and as I mentioned in a previous post, the occasional book on horror films. Take a visual sweep of the room and it’s apparent that I do, on the whole, prefer the clean-edged and substantial aesthetics of a hardcover book to the flimsiness of softcovers, although I have rarely (if ever) turned up my nose at a book with the potential to broaden my literary horizons. (There are some paperbacks that didn’t quite make the “on the shelf” cut, of course: Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles were not tossed, despite my husband’s wiliest attempts, but carefully placed inside a cabinet with doors).
I take great, if not giddy, joy in adding to my burgeoning collection. So, I am nearly beside myself with bookish glee at the thought of the Bryn Mawr–Wellesley Book Sale at Princeton Day School beginning Thursday, March 25 through Saturday, March 28. Now in its 79th year, the Book Sale is the longest-running and largest used-book-selling endeavor on the East Coast, and has become a Princeton tradition by collecting and recycling books in an environmentally sound manner and making said books available at eye-popping prices. In addition to the great deals the sale is famous for, rumor has it that many the “diamond in the rough” has been found within the boxes upon boxes of donated books, thus attracting rabidly enthusiastic readers and collectors from the area and beyond.
Founded in 1931 by a group of Bryn Mawr College graduates, the sale was created to raise scholarship money in order to help young women afford college educations. And, in Princeton, where there was (and still is) no shortage of readers, selling used books seemed to be the ideal solution, and so the bluestockings quickly accumulated inventory to sell by contacting friends and acquaintances. To date, the sale has been held in one of a variety of Princeton locations, including the firehouse, Miss Fine’s School gym (now the Suzanne Patterson Center), PDS’s old open-air hockey rink, The Lawrenceville School rink, and Baker Rink at Princeton University. In 2000, the Wellesley Club joined the fray, and now both alumnae groups continue to donate proceeds from the sale to their respective college’s scholarship funds.
Although the process is a bit different today—ladies no longer go door to door picking up donated books in their bicycle baskets—the book-loving sentiment is the same. With more than 67 different categories of books (from military history to fiction to collector’s editions) and 200 tables to scour, I recommend you get there early on Thursday, when the sale opens to the general public at 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. (Preview Day is tomorrow, however, if you, like I, didn’t realize you had to enter a lottery to purchase a ticket, then you are out of luck. Well, there’s always next year.) The sale continues through Friday (10 a.m. to 9 p.m.) when books are half-price for seniors and children (a limit of 10 books only), and Saturday (10 a.m. to 7 p.m. when prices overall are slashed in half. Sunday the sale winds down with “Box Day” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Methinks I need to make some space, stat (adieu, Vampire Chronicles). The 79th Annual Bryn Mawr–Wellesley Book Sale at Princeton Day School, 650 The Great Road, Princeton; bmandwbooks.com.
Jennifer Henderson is the editor of Princeton Scoop online and a freelance writer who has worked for several magazines, including Vanity Fair, Talk, W, and New Jersey Life. She lives in Princeton with her husband, daughter, and chocolate Labrador. She welcomes any inside scoop on what to do and see in the area. E-mail her at email@example.com.