Weston Public Library Book and Bake Sale: The Harlequin Question

The main point of this post is to get you to stop by the Friends of the Weston Public Library Book and Bake Sale which starts Thursday afternoon at 3 pm for Friends of the WPL members (you can join on the spot if you must or join online here) and carries on through Friday and Saturday (no bake sale on Saturday).

The actual hours for the Book Sale are Thursday, 11/3, 3:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Friday, 11/4, 9:30 am – 5:30 pm and Saturday, 11/5, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. The Bake Sale hours are slightly different (and you don’t have to be a member to get a cupcake): Thursday, 11/3, and Friday, 11/4, 9:30 am – 5:30 pm.

Now comes the Owl filler so you can skip this next part if you’re busy. When I was 13, I started working for the New Canaan Public Library in Connecticut. It was a great first job for someone who loved to read as much as I did and do, and the book sale was a very big deal as well. Along with the Tom Clancys and Ivan Turgenevs (I loved Russian lit for a bit), book donations included a ton of Harlequin novels. If you’re not familiar with the “genre” (term used very loosely), these were 50 cent or dollar serial romance novels, very “family-oriented” (not yet the days of the sizzlers) and we would get hundreds of them donated. What to do with so many?

You can buy this “vintage lot” of 80s/90s Harlequins for $15 on Ebay. Price is up!

Well, if you were the New Canaan Public Library, you would put them into Coke cases or whatever and sell a rack of them for $5. That was about 40 of them in one go–not sure who needed that many since they were all about the same, but they would sell.

Then in the 90s, when I lived in Miami, I again volunteered for the library, this time the gigantic Miami Public Library. The basement there was where we sorted the books, and where, I am sure, there was an active nightlife of rats and sharks. There were huge dump carts in the middle and we flung textbooks, SAT prep books, out-of-date travel books and Harlequins into those carts. If New Canaan had hundreds, Miami had thousands. They never tried to re-sell them. Garbage.

Now, there was a time at age 13 when I enjoyed a Harlequin as a break from Russian lit and that pain in the butt Hemingway. I lost interest pretty quickly but they still make me smile. A few years later, I visited a college friend in Bar Harbor and we went to visit her Nana who lived in a small house near MDI Hospital and was, and still is, a year-round resident. As we went into the house, there were floor-to-ceiling Harlequin novels. Not on shelves, as I recall, but stacks and stacks and stacks.

And I asked Nana about it and she laughed and said that she and her friends passed them around and she had no idea which she had read and which she had not anymore. All I know is Harlequins must give longevity because Nana celebrated her 100th birthday two weeks ago.

So, the Harlequin question, WPL. What’s the answer?

You can ask it yourself this weekend. Get yourself to the Book and Bake Sale!

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