Walking into a private library, with rows of packed bookshelves that touch the high ceiling, is something that most of us can only dream of. If I won the lottery or happened upon a large sum of money, there is a good chance that I may do just that. However, that dream can sit safely inside my head for now, as a private library cannot be cheap if you have to buy all of the books to fill it with. When last did you walk into Bargain Books and take a look at the price tag? Perhaps you’ll agree with me when I say that books are damn expensive, which is unfortunate.
I went to the Fête at the Eric Miles Cheshire Homes approximately 2 or 3 years ago for the first time, an annual fundraising event that has truly grown on me. It is held at the Cheshire Homes in Corsair Road, Milnerton, which is home to more than 40 disabled residents. I was intrigued by all of the second-hand products for sale, which included clothing, vinyl records and a tonne of old books (among other things)! Me, being me, I drifted straight towards the books.
There were so, so many books for sale. I guess that they couldn’t fill that dreamy private library I spoke about, but they could fill a large portion of it at about less than 10% of what the cost would be shopping at a normal bookstore. The books range from old cookbooks and gardening manuals to adult thrillers and children’s fiction- i.e. something for everyone. I tend to gravitate towards the children’s fiction at second-hand bookstores, as that is where all of the classics are hiding. Back in 2015, when I bought a stack of books from this very fête for R25, I found an old Treasure Island novel. It isn’t a first-edition or anything, but it is old enough to have those characteristic yellow-brown pages and a 1954 hand-written Christmas note addressed to someone by the name of Anthony. I also bought a perfect hard-cover copy of The Tales Of Beedle The Bard for a whole R5. That’s about £0.28 or $0.37.
This time around, I didn’t catch anymore J.K. Rowling books, but I managed to get my hands on even more classics, including a R2 (!!!) copy of one of my favourite novels: The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Perhaps you’ve seen the movie (with Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson and Queen Latifah)? For R4, I chose two thin Winnie the Pooh books. I’m not really sure about my reason behind getting two books that I could read cover-to-cover in 0.6667 seconds, but I am sure that they will prove themselves useful at a later stage. The next book is a R5 hard-cover copy of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It has the yellow-brown pages that I spoke about before and that old book smell. I happened upon an old library book, added to their collection in 1967. This particular copy of Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery was last taken out on 2 September 1978, and was clearly never returned. Now the R5 book sits in my bedroom alongside Emily Brontë’s famous classic, Wuthering Heights. This copy is in perfect condition and was the most expensive of the lot- R10. The last book of the lot is a book called The Poison Apples by Lily Archer. It’s no classic, but it seems like an entertaining twist on Cinderella (and it was only R5).
If you haven’t done calculation already, that’s R31 for seven books.
If you’re in the area, I highly recommend supporting the good people at the Eric Miles Cheshire Homes. Although the Fête is over (it was the last two days of September), you could always diarise next year’s event. It always happens around the same time every year. If books aren’t your thing, look out for some vinyl records and cacti, or just grab a hotdog!
If you would like to read more about the Eric Miles Cheshire Homes, visit the website (this is where I got my information from) or their Facebook page. Note that I was not asked to write about them or given any sort of payment for this post.
Which do you prefer: brand new book in perfect condition, or the oldies with the yellow-brown pages?
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