There is a wonderful store in Austin called Half Price Books. You can not only buy books at greatly reduced prices, as the name would suggest, but also sell your used books for cash. This is pretty cool, I must say. I love walking up and down the aisles there because I have found so many titles that I need to finish out collections, books that I have always just wanted to read, or just plain odd stuff. Like the novel that Scooter Libby wrote (no shit). Anyway, it’s just plain fun to go there. And I have had many occasions to bring books to sell so that others may enjoy them. Well, I actually don’t care if others enjoy them or not. They are taking up valuable space in my life and I want to get rid of them. The fact that I can get some money for them at the same time pushes lots of happy buttons for me.
When does a book outlive its usefulness to you? Some books I have permanent relationships with. If my spouse were to come home and see me reading Her Majesty’s Wizard, by Christopher Stasheff, he would know I have had a rough day and need some comfort. If he saw me reading any of the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett, he would know that my day had been surreal and I needed a release. If he saw me reading Patriot Games by Tom Clancy, he would run as fast as he could in the other direction because some really bad shit had gone down and I Should Not Be Disturbed.
But just as one would not be BFF’s with all people, it is the same with books. Some you only have a situational relationship with, like pregnancy books. Others are like a cheap one night stand and you are embarassed that they are still there in the morning. And others are like the co-workers you have lunch with. Nice, but not your buddy. So, in order to stem the chaos, you must purge. For me this usually happens every 6-8 months or so. How do you decide who stays and who goes?
Here are the books that I took to HPB recently. They fell into neat little categories.
I am trying to be a better parent, so I will read.
The Educated Child, William J Bennett
Standardized Minds, Peter Sacks
How to Behave so Your Child Will, Too, Sal Severe
BTW, I never got through these books. So much for being a better parent.
I read important, award winning books and authors, so I will buy these books and I will enjoy them.
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemmingway
Oblivion, David Foster Wallace
Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser
Yiddish Policeman’s Union, Michael Chabon
None of these books did anything for me. One that I didn’t finish was the Clarke. That surprised me since I usually love that genre and she had won the Hugo for it. I don’t usually give up on a book, but this one just never hooked me. And I had forgotten how much I hate Hemmingway when I got that for my book club, or else I would have just borrowed it from someone instead of buying a copy. And yes, I tried to buy a used copy, but there must have been a rush on them from students because the only copies left were totally decrepit.
I am reading these books because it was the Stepford Wives turn to pick the book at book club.
Skinny Dipping, Claire Maturo
Fatal Voyage, Kathy Reichs
24 Hours, Greg Iles
These would be the One Night Stand books. They were enjoyable, but they can’t stay for breakfast.
It was on the Costco table and jumped into my cart.
Labyrinth, Kate Mosse
Children of Hurin, Tolkien
4 Phase Man, Richard Steinberg
Where the hell this did come from? Did I borrow it? I have no clue!
The Schwarzbein Principle, Diana Schwarzbein, Phd.
So now I have some space on my shelves and nightstand again. I did manage to walk out of the store without buying anything this time, which is good. And how much did I make? A whopping $12.75.
It’s time to go out and make some new literary friends. Maybe some will be my BFF. Others I will use for all they are worth and them cast them away. Who knows. But the joy is in the discovery. And what better way to discover something than in the pages of a book.