The Quilt Scout
by Mary Fons
My Book Shelves
Just one of the books in my haul. Ohio quilters?You girls are good.A few months ago, while on a job in upstate New York, I had an hour to myself between events. Did I go for a stroll across the grounds of the pretty campus where the quilt show was being held? Nope. Did I grab a quick bite from the food vendor area? No, though my stomach was growling. Did I call my mother? I’m afraid I did not.
I shopped the book tables.
When my host and I walked into the large gymnasium that morning, we took a tour of the quilts on display. The show was marvelous and, as usual, I was blown away by the talent in this quilt world of ours. But what was every bit as exciting to me—and I’ve debated whether or not to admit this—were the three enormous tables laden with books for sale. Books for sale for less than three dollars apiece.
You’ve seen this kind of merchandise. You’ve probably participated in the creation of such a retail space at one of your own shows or guild meetings. The books on offer that day were donated by guild members wanting to purge their shelves, probably to make more room for fabric, which is fair. And the relinquishing of all those books suits me just fine, seeing as how I have been a quilt book junkie for several years.
Now, I wasn’t too sure about using the word “junkie” here; the original meaning of the word is no laughing matter. So I looked it up and read that a junkie is “a person with a compulsive habit or obsessive dependency on something.” I’m afraid it’s the perfect word for me. When I saw that book table in the morning, with those marvelous books for pennies on the dollar, I mentally bit my nails through my morning presentation, jonesing to get downstairs and scour the goods.
Oh, a used book sale! The only thing missing here is the “Quilting” section. Which is probably a good thing, in my case. Photo: Wikipedia.
My friends in the quilt book publishing business will give me a talking to when they read this, but the truth is that the books I love, the books that were stacked up on the tables that day, are not the newest books on the market — which means they’re used. I drool over the quilt history stuff, and so far, the golden age for these kinds of books (so far) was the 80s and 90s. So these books are not available in the bookstore, usually, and if they’re available online, they’re offered as used there as well. To illuminate my point, here are just a few of the many gently loved books I purchased that golden day in Somers, New York:
See what I mean? And let me tell you, those beauties are but four of the many books I took to the register that day. (If it tells you anything, my bill was 50 dollars. You do the math.)
I found this little card in one of the books I
bought. Cool, right?I am sewing these days, but while I’m confessing my “compulsive habit” and “obsessive dependency on something,” here’s another one: I’m reading these books more often than I am sitting at my machine. I’m researching for a project, yes, but I’m also just happy when I’m learning about the craft I fell in love with nine years ago. Our history as quilters is richer and more fascinating than you can believe. I understand the need to get rid of books you no longer read, but before you take them to the guild sale, crack one of those beauties and revel in the pictures and the stories you’ll discover.
Then, take them to the book table. And