Fairfield County Readers Stock Up On Books And More At Holiday Sale

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Paul Weissman displays an 1889 atlas on sale at the Mark Twain Library's annual book fair at the Redding Community Center.
Paul Weissman displays an 1889 atlas on sale at the Mark Twain Library's annual book fair at the Redding Community Center. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
A collection of donated books on Native Americans was one of the highlights of the book fair.
A collection of donated books on Native Americans was one of the highlights of the book fair. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Several rooms at the Redding Community Center were filled with thousands of books for the Mark Twain Library's annual book fair.
Several rooms at the Redding Community Center were filled with thousands of books for the Mark Twain Library's annual book fair. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Redding readers fill up bags with books of all genres at the book fair.
Redding readers fill up bags with books of all genres at the book fair. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Kids peruse the collection of children's books available at the fair.
Kids peruse the collection of children's books available at the fair. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

REDDING, Conn. -- Readers from Redding and beyond spent part of their holiday weekend perusing about 70,000 items available for sale at the Redding Community Center as part of the Mark Twain Library's annual book fair.

The book fair is now celebrating its 54th consecutive year, making it one of the longest-running library book fairs in New England, said Trish Callaghan, one of the organizers. Books were donated from community members and private collections, and were collected and sorted by volunteers throughout the past year.

"All the books were donated and all the labor was donated," said Jeanne Wendschuh, who led the volunteers in setting up the book fair.

Book lovers can find every possible genre and category of reading material at the book fair, including fiction, nonfiction, art books, cookbooks, collectibles, children's books, audiobooks, large-print books, as well as DVDs, CDs and vinyl records.

Volunteer Jane Hamilton Merritt was particularly excited about a collection of books on American Indians and cowboy life that was donated by local teacher Steve Gibaldi. Book collectors flock to the event, hoping to procure some rare books. Merritt said one $900 set of Pulitzer Prize-winning books sold out within three minutes of the opening of the book fair.

"This book fair is very classy," Merritt said. "The people who organize it and put it together really know their literature and their history. There's a real effort to make it a wonderful experience."

"There's a lot of neat old stuff," said Paul Weissman, a bookbinder who refurbished many of the collectible books for sale.

Among the collectibles that were sold were a first-edition copy of Winston Churchill's "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples" and a first-edition copy of Solomon Northrup's "12 Years A Slave." There were still many collectibles available Sunday, including an 1889 atlas and several 19th-century children's books.

Although the use of e-books is increasing, people still flock to the book fair, Callaghan said. Children's books are particularly popular in physical form, she said. And the low prices for paperbacks and other books allows people to stock up on their favorite authors or try new books.

"A lot of teachers also come and buy books to supplement their classroom material," Callaghan said. "A lot of people really have a use for this."

The book fair started Friday and will finish up Monday. The hours on Monday, Labor Day, are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For $10 customers, can fill up a whole box of books to take home.

The Redding Community Center is located behind Redding Elementary School at 37 Lonetown Road.

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