Recently, I had several hours to while away at a hospital as I waited for my husband to be discharged. At first, I sat in a corner with a cup of coffee as I read and wrote. It was a bitterly cold day, however, so in order to feel my feet again, I decided to explore a little. Eventually, I found an area outside where various stalls were being set up in an effort to raise funds for the hospital. While most were food stalls, catering for the hungry lunchtime hordes, I also found a second hand bookstall. The two women running it were intrigued when I told them I was an author and wanted to know what sort of books I wrote. An interesting conversation ensued, during which I commented how I was happy to see any of my books in a second hand bookshop.
‘Of course,' I went on to explain, 'I always hope the person who initially bought or was given my book read it before recycling it—but at least he or she didn’t think it was bad enough to consign it to the rubbish bin straight away! Besides, it gives more than one person the opportunity to read my books, which is great from my perspective.’
I also told them how my novels contain strong faith themes, at which point the lady in charge told me they steer clear of selling any religious books.
‘It’s too risky for us. This is a very multicultural area and we don’t want to offend anyone. Any Bibles we receive, we give straight to the hospital chaplain. Also, sometimes we get quite strange books donated to us and I refuse to put them on display as well. We don’t want to lead anyone astray.’
She proceeded to show me some they had just received—and I was glad of her decision not to display them. I began to wander around the stall and found many good books, ranging from classics to popular novels to cookbooks to children’s stories, all selling for less than two dollars. Then I noticed a book by Australian Christian author and radio personality Kel Richards, The Case of the Vanishing Corpse. Hmm. It seemed the ladies in charge did not realise it was about a modern day detective investigating the disappearance of the body of Jesus. Oh well!
I then noticed one of these ladies examining the book Surprised by Joy by C S Lewis.
‘I don’t know this book or author,’ she commented.
‘Oh, C S Lewis an excellent writer,’ I said blithely. ‘Very insightful and well worth reading!’
I hoped I hadn’t said too much. I prayed she would leave the book on display and was relieved to see her do exactly that. I bought a selection of books and chatted with them for a while longer in an effort to encourage them. After all, they were doing a great job for that hospital, standing in the cold to sell those books. And who knows what treasures they might pass onto others in the process?
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney, Australia. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com.