Used book sales, or, someone must have died and that person was 190-years-old


Over the weekend, I helped organize books for my kids’ elementary school’s used book sale. I ended up with the adult non-fiction section. Oh my word…now, I know that people will donate ridiculous things sometimes. When I worked at a battered women’s shelter, we used to have people donate half-used bottles of shampoo and moisturizer, and stained tee shirts with holes in them. You have to assume they meant well, but if the question you’re asking yourself is, “do I give this to battered women or throw it in the trash,” and you have a pretty compelling argument for “trash”? Then it’s time to throw it out. But, you know, thanks for thinking of those in need just slightly before your trash can.

Given that experience, I was a little giddy to see what I would find in the stacks of used books.

I was not disappointed.


First of all, someone must have recently died, and their children, while cleaning out the house, said, “I can’t make one more trip to the dump!” I can think of no other reason why someone would think we could sell a stack of old National Geographic magazines.

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 There was quite the treasure trove of finds. I had no idea, for example, that people had so many books about weddings and dogs. There had to be a separate box just for the wedding and dog books, for crying out loud. There were, however, no books on dog weddings. I was super sad about that. I did find this treat, however:

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I didn’t look inside this book, but I imagine an “eco-chic wedding” means giving people seeds as take-home gifts and feeding your leftover quinoa wedding cake to organically raised pigs. Also, you need to make your own dress from carpet remnants.


There were also a ton of cookbooks at the sale, though this was my favorite.


“Take one pallet of salmon fillets and a four-gallon tub of mayonnaise. Simmer on your forty-eight-inch professional grade stove, and sweeten with a packet of Stevia from your 1000 count box. Serve with white wine from your 142-bottle wine cooler.”


I  firmly believe in the saying, “to each his own.” But my god, “The Amazing Story of the Volkswagon?” This must have come from the same house as the National Geographics.

RIP, Grandpa.

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Some donations took me deep into the private lives of the donors.


The massage gift certificate was tucked into the pages of “Passionate Marriage.” Ouch…I’m guessing this didn’t go over quite the way they had hoped.

And by the way, if I may humbly offer a small piece of advice — if you are looking for a book to improve your marital sex life, please don’t buy it at a public school fund raiser. That’s what the internet is for.


This one was pocket-sized! Because who doesn’t need one of these babies in their pocket at all times? People who aren’t communists. That’s who.

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Some of the donations obviously came from people who were so exhausted sorting through their books that they decided they were just going to wash their hands of all of it and let us figure it out. That has to be how we ended up with the “1996 People Magazine Entertainment Almanac.”

Thanks. This is going to sell like hot cakes eighteen years ago.

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Here we have “The ESSENTIAL Guinea Pig.” There isn’t any of that superfluous guinea pig info that other books try to give you. The Essential Guinea Pig: when all you want is the basics — namely, what does it eat and how long will it live.

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But THIS was the pièce de résistance:

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I took it home with me, because how could I not?

Author: admin

Meredith likes to write the funny at her blog, Pile of Babies (


  1. We tend to come away from these book things with strangeness in our bags. My husband would have bought the 1996 People with an excuse that went “something something interested in history,” and then he would never open it.

    My 13-year-old has a stack of old National Geographics. I bought them at a flea market for a nickel a piece. He uses them when he has to cut out pictures for some project or other. Because I’m not paying for the expensive color ink to print them offline. So, those might have sold okay if there are other teachers who are always requiring visuals when no one actually subscribes to physical things any more.
    Sarah recently posted..Things That Scare Me at Night – a Pie ChartMy Profile

  2. So, would you use a honey trap to catch crabs? (Sorry, couldn’t resist. I’m a little ashamed. Well, maybe not…)


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