Each Book Marks a Spot

Books are more than ink on paper; each is embossed with memories of laughter and tears, and hopes and fears of the reader at a particular time in their life.

At every sale, our donors and buyers share their stories about their adventures with books. Sometimes, it’s a childhood favorite lost and found or one that brought solace in troubled time. You are welcome to add to our collection of such moments by emailing us your favourite stories about books and reading.


The Perfect Spot for a Good Read

Sometimes, you just can’t wait to explore that new book. There she sat on her makeshift seat, oblivious to the commotion around her and the balloon floating high over her head. Dad kept a close eye from a nearby aisle.

It’s a Family Affair

Our volunteers are part of the Livelong Learning Centre family, and they inspire own their families and friends to join our Big Book Sale team.

For our patrons, a visit to The Big Book Sale is more often than not a family affair, too. Couples, parents and grandparents with lots of children and their friends. The children who have been to the sale previously quickly spot the balloons in the back corner and the race is on. And their enthusiasm continues all the way to the parking lot.


The Highland Concession is the Nguyen family’s enterprise. They have taken the spirit of the Book Sale to heart with a menu of family favourites.


And there is another family connection. The sister of the Highland manager caught Book Sale fever and created these inspired cookies. Love the bookworms!


A Secure Future

Sandra says, “This is my second year of providing security for the Big Book Sale. I requested to work this event as it is so much fun. This year, I recognize many of the volunteers and patrons.

As those patrons wait for the doors to open, there is an excited hum of conversation as they share their favorite authors and titles. This is a friendly atmosphere and I love working in it! I look forward to volunteering for set up next year.”

What is it about balloons? 

On the last day of the sale, a volunteer in the children’s corner started giving away the display balloons to young shoppers. The first two went to a family that had just recently moved to the city. Later, a little boy came asking if he could have one, too. When I told him that they were all gone, he looked very sad. 

Isabella, a little dark-haired beauty from the first family was looking through the books nearby. Without hesitation, she said, "Here, he can have this one." The little boy eagerly took the balloon and thanked her. 

The volunteer said, “It was a lovely moment. I hope that Isabella and her family find a warm welcome in our city. I'll be watching for her and family next year at our book sale - with a balloon in hand.” - A


As I helped a woman unload her donations, she told me how difficult it was to part with her husband's books because he had passed away a year or so before. However, she said that bookmarks made it easier. She then shared the story of the importance of bookmarks in her family. 

She and her husband had agreed to use real bookmarks in the books they were currently reading, not cards or sticky notes. When they finished each book, they would remove the bookmark and insert it into the next book. By doing so, if something happened to either of them, their spouse and children would know exactly what was of interest to them at that time.*

I now have a reverence for the humble bookmark and have chosen to continue the tradition in my own reading. - B

On a Mission

A woman came to the sale on a mission – to find large-print romance novels for her 94 year-old mother. She was thrilled to find 75 books by her favourite authors. The fact that the books were used was a blessing because her mother is sensitive to the ink used in recently published books. - B

The Magic of Maps

A little boy came with his mother looking for the children’s section. He was excited to see the floor plan and started on his adventure to the far corner where all his fictional friends were waiting. He returned to say that he had been successful in his search and left with a Big Book Sale map for his collection. - B

Lasting Value

“I have found a number of Anthony Trollope novels at this sale that I had missed reading over the years. They are a hundred and fifty years old and read like today's newspaper with their descriptions of politics and social activities of that time...........Many patrons exclaim at the value of the books they are getting for the low price they are paying.  Others are thrilled to complete a set or find a remembered favourite."  L.

And Puff and Spot

"At last year's book sale I found a well-used copy of 'Fun With Dick and Jane'. That sure brought back memories from 70 years ago. Love the SALE. Please keep up the good work."  - Anon.

Memories in the Pages

On the last day of the sale, a woman asked if we had any of the Nancy Drew series. She said that her older sister had died recently. She wanted at least one volume as a remembrance of the hours they had shared reading about Nancy's adventures. We looked through the boxes and found Dick and Jane and The Bobsey Twins, but Nancy was not to be found. Perhaps she will put in an appearance next year.

P.S. Nancy came today with a full set of her memoirs. I hope our buyer is on hand to meet her. - B

Paid Forward - Right Then and There

"An excited cowboy of 10 or 11 brought his collection of horse books to the Tally Table. The volunteer handed him a chit for $11 and watched his smile fade as he realized that the change he held in his hand was not enough. He would have to choose which of his treasures to leave behind. But then, like magic, a $5 bill was added to his little stash. The volunteer and the boy exchanged a tearful smile and nod before he turned to the Cashier. All was right with the world once more." - A

A Lesson in Contrast

We had one man concerned that $.50 was too much for an old LP and another who graciously donated $5 for one of a similar age, commenting "It's worth it. It's a classic. - A

It’s Hard to Say Goodbye to Old Friends

Our volunteers are well aware that some of our donors are very, very reluctant to part with their beloved books. One gentleman had a unique response to his wife’s directive to downsize his library. Rather than dispose of them, he would take them with him. He would purchase two plots in the cemetery, one for himself and the other for his books.

Needless to say, his books came to us unscathed; his fate is yet to be decided.

Shannon’s Story

Shannon, one of our book sale volunteers, shared this story about her lifelong love of books and reading.

 Imagine leaving Canada with your family at the age of seven to live a very different country. Shannon did just that many times. Her father worked for the United Nations and her family moved from country to country as she was growing up. 

 The family took few personal possessions with them, not even books. At each new posting, they would scrounge books and toys from other English-speaking families, and then leave them behind for other UN children who would follow them. 

 She grew up having her father read children’s classics to her. Her favourites were the adventures of “TinTin” and “Asterix”.  Remember those early versions of today’s graphic novels? 

 Her father is gone now, but he lives on in the voices he created for all the characters in those stories.  She can still hear “Billions of blistering blue barnacles” and “By Toutasis” and “By Belanos” spoken as only her father could.

Like her dad, she came to appreciate the sly adult humour of Asterix’s play on names, like “Getafix”, the Druid who made the magic potion and “Geriatric”, the village nonagenarian. 

Thanks to the generosity of someone else who loved these classic tales, and chose to donate them to our sale, Shannon now owns five of these childhood favorites she left behind. Treasures like these await the child in all of us each year at The Big Book Sale. - B

New Found Old Treasures

"Two little girls stood in front of the collage of items found in the donated books. The younger one admired a fan that was on display so a volunteer gave it to her, then reached for a pretty pink necklace and gave it to her sister. They passed their treasures back and forth as they walked away with their unexpected gifts." - A

A Reader Leaves His Mark

One of our sorters found an book on Analytical Geometry, copyright 1939. It would have been recycled except for an interesting notation on the flyleaf. If was signed by someone who identified himself as “an inmate of St. ________’s Penitentiary”. This was of interest to us because we donate after-sale books our provincial jails. We were pleased to see that this inmate had used his time there to advantage.

However, there were other notations on that flyleaf, and after some investigation we discovered that the penitentiary mentioned did not exist. Our poor inmate was not studying willingly, but as required by his four-year stint on the inside - of his local high school by the same name. His sentence had a beginning and a middle, but we will never know how it ended. - B

Unravelling the Mysteries of Ourselves

I was told once, and read many times since, that reading fiction increases our empathy, the ability to see the world from the perspective of “the other”.  I believe that to be true, and one of our volunteers told this story about how reading fiction helped a friend of hers discover empathy for herself. 

Her friend was born with a lisp. From an early age, she knew she was different. To her classmates, the way she spoke stripped away the value of anything she said and with it, her self esteem. She came to accept that she was as stupid as her contemporaries said she was.  

All that changed in Grade 8 or 9 when she found Stephen King and Dean Koontz. She became a voracious reader. As she worked her way through the complex characterization and plot lines of each novel, she found a new image of herself and confidence in her innate abilities. To this day, her Stephen King collection is a most prized possession. - B