York Town Square

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Book Nook shows York County, Pa., has some serious readers

The York County Heritage Trust annually holds one of the York-area’s largest used book sales of the year, the Book Blast in August. It follows another large sale, WellSpan Auxiliary’s Book Nook (see photograph below). The trust is accepting donations through today. For details about the Aug 11-13 sale, visit Book Blast. And for a video about last year’s sale, see Book Blast 2010. Here, York County Heritage Trust’s Lila Fourhman-Shaull, mastermind of the Book Blast, works in the trust’s archives. Also of interest: Used book sale marks an annual York, Pa., blast and Mount Wolf’s Frances G. Wolf a 20th-century mover in the York County community and York County Heritage Trust Archives/Library extends offerings to research family tree

I explained in a previous post about how the chance meeting with an acquaintance or friend is one of the great things about the just-concluded WellSpan Auxiliary’s Book Nook Extravaganza.
Here’s another neat thing about that book sale:
Sorting through all those Book Nook spines and covers stirs you up and get you thinking.
I thought about how much York countians like mysteries. Books of that genre appear to cover the most tables and draw the biggest crowds in the book-filled gym at York Suburban Middle School.
Still, I was struck by the caliber of books at the Nook.
York County has some serious readers… .

The Book Nook Extravaganza website states: ‘We could not hold this sale without book donations from our community, and we appreciate the thousands of books we received this year for our sale… . We thank you for another successful year. We will again be collecting books starting in the Fall of 2011. Please keep an eye on this website for further information.’

The classics table offered many picks that surpass the usual fare of classics discarded by students after finishing their literature assignments.
I mean, there was Arthur Koestler’s “Darkness at Noon,” and Ford Madox Ford’s “The Good Soldier,” both members of the Modern Library Association’s top 100 list.
And “Appointment in Samarra” and other works by Pennsylvania’s own John O’Hara were laying there on the table.
OK, O’Hara’s work often linking to Pottsville via the fictional Gibbsville hasn’t held up well.
But there were numerous works by a Pennsylvania author that will never seem dated: the Reading-area’s John Updike.
And I further wondered how many of those books were slate quarries in the Delta-Peach Bottom area.
I read a Books & Culture magazine review of Jonathan Rose’s “The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes” that tells about the self-taught Welsh of the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The review provided some amazing statistics about those Welshmen.
Out-of-work miners in the 1920s read an average of 86 books annually in one town.
One miner received his education in the pit where he learned Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin and Karl Marx from other miners. That same miner tried to check a book by a poet, and 12 people were ahead of him on the waiting list.
Ironworkers would sing opera choruses on the job, and one family carried the classical music theme to its children: One family named its males Handel, Haydn, Elgar, Verdi, Billy Bach, Mendelssohn (called Mendy) and a daughter, Rossini (called Rosie.)
OK, so when I asked a student of Peach Bottom’s Welsh if evidence exists of hyper-literacy among that group, he pondered a bit and said, no.
But I still wonder about that and believe the culture of literacy among Delta’s Welsh is ripe for study.
Meanwhile, browsing away back at the Book Nook, those books sparked such thoughts.
That’s a lot of thinking for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
But that’s what books do. They hone one’s sense of discovery.
And I had another thought.
It was about a Mars Hill Audio interview with Nicholas Carr.
Carr wrote the widely read piece in The Atlantic “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” about how the Web, social media and the online world can distract from deep reading.
“I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text,” he wrote. “The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle. … “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”
In the Mars Hill Audio interview, Carr gave counsel about how he’s managed his time on the Web. For example, he closes his email application each day rather than leaving it open.
Social media are great for transactions, he said, but not good for open-ended relationships – for shooting the breeze.
Not sure about that. For those on the introverted side of the ledger like me, Facebook, Twitter and the like create an opportunity to socialize.
But so do books.
All York Town Square posts from the start. Then use “find” function on browser to search for keywords.
– Of course, you can always search for York Town Square posts on Google. For example, when you search for yorktownsquare and WellSpan, you get this.

*Pieces of the this essay will be part of my York Sunday News column, 7/3/11.
**Photos courtesy York Daily Record/Sunday News