You Never Know What You Will Find at the Scarsdale Library Book Sale

If you thought the printed book was a phenomenon of the past, rest assured it’s alive and well in Scarsdale. The Friends of the Scarsdale Library are currently collecting books for the 2010 Book Sale to be held September 11- 19 and they are busy sorting through piles of donated books. CD’s, DVD’s, vinyl records, sheet music and video games. According to Kathy Steves, Book Sale Chairman, the sale will feature a special section of new fiction, published in 2009 and 2010.

Sometimes the volunteers find more than just books. Earlier this summer, Ruth Kohn, President of the Friends of the Scarsdale Library found $500 inside one donated book, but she was able to find the rightful owner and returned the money. Another contributor called police in a panic when she thought she left thousands of dollars of jewelry concealed inside a jewelry box disguised as a fake book. The “book” was located by volunteers, but nothing was found inside.

In 2008, I found a wonderful note concealed inside a gardening book and wrote this entry about it:

I attended the book sale at the Scarsdale Library last week. It's a reader's paradise. You can find any novel that you haven't read...sometimes in the bargain basement price of just a $1.00 for a barely-touched hardcover copy. I couldn't help but marvel at the quality of the community's donations --- from Anne Tyler and Philip Roth to non-fiction contributions covering the most esoteric topics. A friend who's a collector told me that her husband picked up a first edition of a book for $60 and found it was valued at over $2,000. Only in Scarsdale!

But book browsing proved to be only half the fun. While nosing around the gardening section for a guide to perennials, I found a handwritten note underneath the books. Curious, I picked it up and found a gem.

On a small sheet of personalized notepaper, titled "Lisa", there was this short but telling missive from wife to husband. Here's how it read:

My King:

Before massage and after working out, a trip to the store would be much appreciated.

1) 4 FAT pieces of swordfish
2) Brussle sprouts (misspelled as shown)
3) wild rice or brown rice
4) lettuce, cucumber and (tomatoe for my parents)

Thank you - oh and capers in a jar - 2 jars ----

I love you.
Have a wonderful day.

The Queen

I quickly stowed the note between the covers of a novel I had selected, paid and left.

I realized that I had a sweet story in my hands. I thought of Ian McEwan, author of Saturday who crafted a novel based on the events of a single day. Just that morning in the Times I read a story of a girl who found a diary in a New York City dumpster and used it as the foundation of her first novel. Could this note be my inspiration?

Or perhaps it could simply be a thought-provoker in our household. After all, my weekend notes to my husband were often met with a comment such as "So you left me a list of what I need to do today?" No mention of royalty here - only complaints from the serfs who toil. On the other hand, my "to-do" lists were not as cleverly or lovingly drafted. Maybe I could learn a bit about coercion from my new muse.

I read and re-read the note. I noticed that the author, Lisa, seemed please that her husband, a.k.a. "the King" would enjoy his workout and massage. She reminded him that his trip to the store would be "much appreciated" and ended by conveying her love and wishing him a wonderful day. Signing the note, "The Queen" indicated that she too felt important to the King and the household. I envied these people. How they had elevated the mundane to the sublime!

At dinner that night, my husband was huddled over the newspaper, alternating glances at his new IPhone and MSNBC. Vying for a glance my way, I slipped the note under his nose and mentioned that I'd found it today. A few minutes passed without remark and my spirits plummeted. Wouldn't he react?

Finally I said, "Honey...did you read it?

Without missing a beat or should I say a beep from his IPhone, he answered, "Yes my Queen, what can I do for you?"