First, some observations. The place is in the middle of nowhere, on farm land between Staunton and Harrisonburg. Right after you turn into the driveway, the road you were driving on turns into a gravel road. Even so, it's really only a few minutes off the interstate, so it's not at all complicated to find. They do try to place the books by category, and they succeed in this for the most part, but I found that the fiction section was TOO divided. I ended up looking at pretty much every book in the fiction section because I didn't want to miss something I was looking for and I wasn't sure exactly which subdivision it would be in. I had to laugh because, on the same aisle, two books with "suspicious" titles had been turned around so that the spine faced the back of the shelf and you couldn't see what it was. I had visions of a 50-year-old self-righteous mom deciding they were too risque for the kids to read. I turned them back around so you could see them, of course (for the curious, the titles were Confessions of a Romantic Pornographer and Hideous Kinky).
Book sections I saw while there: science fiction, mystery, popular fiction, gay/lesbian fiction, assorted romance fiction categories (regular, contemporary, erotic, paranormal, etc.), African American fiction, Christian fiction, historical fiction, bestsellers, world literature, classic literature, 20th century literature, literary biographies, literary criticism, poetry, fiction anthologies, drama (including a whole separately labeled section for Shakespeare), manga, game books (like crosswords), reference, business, travel, self-help, personal finance, diet, cooking, crafts, gardening, history, science, a large children's section, and audiobooks. There may have been even more categories; those are just the ones I remember!
Okay, on to what everyone's been waiting for - a list of the books I bought. Some of these were for the Fill-in-the-Gaps project, and some were purely for entertainment.
- A Company of Three by Varley O'Connor
- Lottery by Patricia Wood
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
- The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
- Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell (I would have bought Mr. Bridge too, but they didn't have that one)
- Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
- The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
- The Night Villa by Carol Goodman
- If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend by Alison Pace
- David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
- My Ántonia by Willa Cather
- Time Off for Good Behavior by Lani Diane Rich
- Diana Lively Is Falling Down by Sheila Curran
- The Next Big Thing by Johanna Edwards
My advice for those considering going themselves some time? Go early in their open window - they're usually only open for 2-3 weeks at a time, and a friend of mine told me that near the end, everything is really picked over and the good stuff is gone. Next, give yourself plenty of time. I didn't think I'd need more than an hour, and I was there for almost two...and I didn't even see everything. There was a whole downstairs area that I didn't get a chance to go look at because I had to leave to come home. Set a budget, bring a calculator, and make sure you stick to your budget. Also, if you have a wishlist of books you want, bring a list with you so you don't stand there thinking, "Was this book I wanted? I can't remember if it was called The Little Chair or The Little Table."
And that's all I've got. Their dates for the rest of this year are June 27 - July 12, August 22 - September 7, October 10 - 25, and November 27 - December 13. Anybody else been before? Do you want to go now?