Old Book Sale buyers on the prowl for next treasure

mstucka@macon.comMay 2, 2014 

PERRY -- B.K. Lilja, of Warner Robins, waited for the Old Book Sale to open on its second day with five empty boxes, ready to fill, perched on his hand truck.

“I’m not a book dealer, no, but I am a bibliophile,” he said. “The types of books I look for, I should be able to get another 100, 150 books.”

The sale, run by the Houston County Friends of the Library, can be a logistical challenge for some people. Lilja, a former reporter who’s retired from Fort Valley State University, picked up 171 books Thursday, the first day of the sale. The sale closed Friday at 8 p.m., and books are half price Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On Friday, Lilja planned to pick up nearly enough books to read a book a day for a year -- until the next book sale. But he says now that he’s retired and can enjoy everything from military history to science fiction, he’ll read as many as two and a half books some days.

But first is the challenge of getting the books home. Kara Turk, of Hawkinsville, stopped by the fiction section and found herself trying to balance 10 hardcovers, including a several by John Grisham.

“I’ve lent my John Grisham books out, so I’m replacing them now,” she explained after a volunteer rushed over with an empty box to help her. Within moments, she had added more books, piling them well above the top of the box.

“I’m fixing to take a class in literature of the South, and I’m really excited,” Turk said. “Believe it or not, at 52, I’m going back to the University of Georgia.”

Kristi Morrell seemed to enjoy the thrill of the hunt. She had traveled half an hour, from the Macon County town of Ideal, to the Georgia National Fairgrounds to look for travel books and books on dogs, horses and cooking -- and perhaps some fiction.

“The Best of James Herriot,” by the beloved British veterinarian, went first into a cart she had rented for $3. She looked at “Seabiscuit,” which she’d gotten earlier, and praised a copy of “Off The Beaten Path,” which she bought last year and has since donated to her library, where it’s been popular.

Her next selection was a guide to Tibet because, with a fixed income, she’s an armchair explorer. She’s long loved the written word and even worked on the student newspaper at Macon’s Central High School years ago.

“There’s something about a book,” she said.

And, in the end, about lots of books.

Pat Yates, a now-retired paralegal, helped start the book sale 10 years ago to benefit all of Houston County’s libraries. She noted some of the more unusual books and collections, from books on Freemasons donated from the estate of a judge’s father to an Abraham Lincoln collection of nine volumes from 1907, for $24.

Yates predicted the Old Book Sale would raise about $50,000 for the libraries after it concludes Saturday afternoon. Some of that money, she admitted, will be her own.

“I’m trying to cut myself off,” Yates said, then paused.


To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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