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Karen Wielinski: Book sale offered a wealth of treasures

We live in an age of advanced technology. I try to keep up with this ever-changing revolution, which enables the ease of obtaining knowledge, entertainment and social networking by the swipe of a finger tip. Unfortunately, I feel my 4-year-old granddaughter has more success with this process than I do.

One development I have a hard time embracing is the electronic book. I would still rather visit a library or bookstore to browse for a book, and feel the excitement of discovering the world within it, as I flip through its pages. The crisp feel and smell of a new book make me feel like I have made a new discovery. As I hold an old book, my mind tries to imagine who might have turned those pages in the past. There is a history to each book, the touch of someone else’s hand traced between its lines.

I am not a ferocious reader, but over the years I have been transported to different worlds through books, and many have become a part of my household possessions.

It is good to pass a beloved book on my shelf and remember the pleasure it brought, and even recall where it was read. There were lazy afternoons where I dutifully worked my way through summer reading lists. Some of this reading was tedious, but I can still see myself in our backyard and feel my relief when Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” explained his actions in a letter to Elizabeth.

The realization that others still embrace this admiration of books was reinforced for me at a book sale by the Friends of the Library. This event takes place in our town every summer. Thousands of books fill a large room in a church basement, and many volunteers collect, sort and display books.

Buyers leisurely searched through the volumes, reading book jackets to find those tales that enticed them, and then happily dropped them in brown grocery bags. The bargain was hard to beat – an overflowing bag could be purchased for only $12.

Mothers arrived with their little ones and selected stacks of children’s books that would provide the opportunity to snuggle together as “Thomas the Engine,” or “Elmo” came to life. How many of these books would develop skills in toddlers that would lead to a lifelong love of the written word?

Teens put down their electronic devices and searched for their own summer reading requirements. Was there a copy of “The Secret Life of Bees” or “David Copperfield” in this array of books? Or could an interest in photography, art or history be explored?

I find it impossible to walk into a book sale and not leave with some treasure or two. Children’s books are my downfall. I am drawn to older books and their beautiful illustrations. Although I did not come across those at this sale, I did manage to fill my bag with delightful books that I can share with my grandchildren, along with workbooks that will educate them in the future.

My prized find was a copy of “The Great Life Photographers,” filled with captured moments exploring the wonders of life.

I will continue to use advances in technology, but when it comes to e-books or an actual book in my hands, I will choose the latter.

I take comfort in the fact that although my grandchildren are already well-versed in technology, they also demonstrate a love of books. I want to continue cozily sitting with them, holding a book between us and making words come to life.

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