Sometimes (well, mainly in November, when I’m short of blog ideas) I think of the Book Fair offerings as a massive Thanksgiving dinner.
We have the main course, the turkey, in those subjects our customers really flock to go through: History, Biography, Art, Literature, Books and Authors. Not everybody likes the same things, just as some people like ham or goose instead of turkey, but this is the big, imposing dish to impress the guests.
We also have our mashed potatoes and gravy, the sort of thing people always swear they’re cutting down on, because so many people it’s not good for you: Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction. This is, however, good solid robust food that I believe it’s best not to ignore.
We must, of course, have our Brussels sprouts, or our green bean casserole, or our canned asparagus: the foods some people really love and others just put up with because it’s good for us: Political Science, Sociology, Reference (lot of good flavor in some of the smaller reference books).
Cranberries and sweet potatoes are supposed to add a little brightness to the flavor of the table: they add the tart and sweet notes: Humor, Games, Music. This is one of the areas where the fights start: you turn your back and Cousin Andy has taken the last copy of Trump: The Board Game when he already had two helpings of Boggle.
Dessert, being traditionally rich, is obviously the Collectibles section. This is the area where you hold up a hand and say, “No, I really shouldn’t take another book signed by Carl Sandburg” while with the other hand you drag the pie closer.
All of this is very well, and quite charming, but what really makes the family Thanksgiving dinner, what really distinguishes it from the Thanksgiving dinner you could go to a hotel and buy, are the exotics. These are often unique to a family: starting the meal with liver dumpling soup or decorating the green bean casserole with maraschino cherries. Yours and yours alone is the family that always has a bowl of hot dogs and sauerkraut on the Thanksgiving table. That was all Bunky-Boo would eat when she was three, and you have had it every Thanksgiving since, even though Bunky-Boo is now 47 and a Vegan.
And, by gum, didn’t I get a few servings of that last week! Here’s a copy of The DaVinci Code—in Hebrew. Here, in Japanese, we have Winnie-the-Pooh, The Wizard of Oz, and the entire Hunger Games trilogy. Next to it on the platter is a copy of Around the World in 80 Days which looks like a fine limited edition until you open it and see it’s an empty box. Here’s another copy of that album of car ads Jonathan Winters made for radio spots. This is a framed signature and wax seal from someone whose name is unknown to Google (that’s rare in and of itself). Here’s a little cooking brochure which somebody had no more sense than to call “21 Exciting Things You Can Do With Cold Pasta”.
Ah, the Book Fair is indeed like a good Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, except it happens in July. And you have to pay for what you take. And you have to stand in line. And…okay, be that way about it. Just for that I won’t share my recipe for turkey liver pizza. So there, too.