Waco Chat

Having a Drink with Paul Larson

By Kevin Tankersley

Chair of the Friends of the Library Book Sale

“With a $20 bill, you can buy a lot of books.”

I went to my first book sale the fall of 1993, but I was just a customer. I was a customer for two or three years, then I signed up to help at the next book sale, probably around ’96. I went from straightening books and helping people take stuff out to their car to the next year, when I was a cashier.

I’ve been doing this for 20 years now. I’ve been chair of the sale for 15 or 16 years now. This is my last year. It’s time for new blood to take over.

Books in Spanish are really important to me. I like to collect books on Spanish literary history. I have 65 or 70 of those. I like to collect books about the Marx Brothers.

My taste in books is very eclectic, so the book sale is ideal for me. I buy odd things. If you look at our shelves, you’re going to see a pretty odd collection of books. That’s why book sales are great.

They have a very, very eclectic selection of books that have been out of print for decades, books that may have been published in other languages in other countries, editions that you’ve never seen. For the most part, the books in the sale, you’re paying $2 for a hardcover or trade paperback and $1 for a paperback. With a $20 bill, you can buy a lot of books.

Larson likes the Waco Hippodrome because of the “retro” feel of the theater and the art deco touches it contains. “I love old theaters and [have] lots of nostalgia for them,” he said. To drink, Larson ordered a simple Jack Daniel’s over ice. “A good friend of mine in college introduced me to Jack over 30 years ago,” he said. “I love the flavors, and if I’m going to have a single drink, it’s simple and familiar. Lots of good memories shared over a little ice and J.D.”

Exclusively we support the Waco-McLennan County public library system, whenever they need something that falls outside of their budget, any extra things, like summer reading programs. The city and county do a very good job of funding the libraries. We’re very fortunate in that sense. There are many cities that are cutting back on their library budgets. McLennan County and Waco haven’t done that.

We know that cities with good library systems have lower unemployment, lower crime rates, lower delinquency issues, happier communities. What we do does not take away in any way from what the city and county do. They do a really good job of funding the libraries here.

The book sale gives people the opportunity to find books they loved as kids. Maybe they’ve lost their copy, or [they have a chance] to try new things for almost nothing.

You never know what you’re going to get. If you go consistently to the book sale, you will find in a period of five years anything that you’re looking for, if you give yourself time and a little bit of energy.

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