The mysterious power of infinite books

The books are waiting! They're waiting for you, at the Cranbrook Public Library/Sunrise Rotary Club annual book sale.

It’s like your birthday and Christmas Day combined — in my case, I mean that literally.

In my dream combination of birthday and Christmas Day, all the presents are made up of books (well, money, too).

That’s what it’s like when the doors open at 9:30 a.m., and into the Ktunaxa Gym we herd, we drooling bibliophiles, for the start of the Cranbrook Public Library/Sunrise Rotary Club annual five-day giant book sale.

There’s nothing that beats that initial rush, that electric shiver up my spine, that two seconds of seeing the vast expanse of tables, a prairie of books, a great midwest of the printed word.

I know, in those two seconds, that I will find the perfect book for me, as well as the book I read so many years ago that I’ve been searching for ever since, as well as the book I dreamed about years ago and always wondered if it was real, as well as that book I’ve always wanted you to read so that we’d think alike, as well as that first edition Roderick Haig-Brown, as well as that hard cover copy of “10 Steps To Astral Projection,” as well as that compendium of spells which will make me smarter, better looking and quicker witted, something that alcohol has so far failed to do, no matter how much I’ve experimented.

In short, it’s possible that every book ever printed is there, waiting for me, in those two seconds after I’ve walked into the Library’s massive book sale.

The psychology is weird: I see another salegoer huddled over a table — the “Classics” section, say — and I’m driven to squeeze in beside him at once to make sure he’s not getting something I would regret missing if I knew it was there. But as I’m heading towards him, I see another salegoer huddled over another table, and I’m torn about where I should go.

It’s exciting. It’s not a quiet, languorous browse.

And even before the doors open — with all of us squeezed into the little hallway outside the Ktunaxa Gym, I can feel the atmosphere of anticipation, and I can tell that everyone — my book-buying rivals — feel the same way I do.

Rumours of the death of the printed word are greatly exaggerated. A book has great power, like an electricity. An older, used book as a certain power about it too. Piles and piles of books laid out like they are all weekend, is like a nuclear reactor. I cannot imagine a line-up on a cool fall morning for the latest digital download. There’s not the same electricity.

Another mystical aspect of the massive book sale is that there is never anything about fighting over scraps. Though it’s exciting to be there at the beginning, it’s amazing what can be found right through to the final hours. It’s something that keeps some of us going back every day, if possible. It’s never “what did I miss the first time.” It’s “what can I find this time.” It’s a flowing spring of words.

The Cranbrook Public Library/Sunrise Rotary’s annual book sale to end all book sales is one of the great moments of the Cranbrook autumn. It opened Wednesday morning for Library members, and to the public at large on Thursday morning. Today, Friday, Oct. 3, through Saturday it opens at 9:30 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. And on Sunday the  “Bag Sale” runs from 9:30 am to 1 pm. Bring a Cranbrook Public Library bag and fill it for $5 or purchase a bag on site and fill it for $6 (no other bags can be used).

Head on down to the Ktunaxa Gym, across Kootenay Street from the Cranbrook Public Library. The books are waiting.