When Amanda was a baby, we lived in Portland, Oregon. Portland is such a wonderously bookish city, and has the best independent bookstore chain ever. It's been 10 years since we lived there, and I still miss Powell's City of Books. Seriously. As in now that I'm thinking of it, I have a little nostalgic ache in my chest. I have such wonderful memories of taking the compliant Amanda and strolling the aisles. Powells sells new and used books, but the unique wonder of these stores is that they shelve all the books together. So if I was looking for a copy of my latest bookclub pick (which was much heavier on the "club" than the "book"), I could go to one spot and select from whatever they might have available -- new hardback, new paperback, used.
At the time, I was going through a bit of a cookbook phase. I'd bring 3 or 4 books to sell, and then leave with one or two books to take home.
In New York, there were bookstores that we frequented as well, primarily The Strand, which had a big basement section of what I've now come to figure out were publicity copies sent to reviewers. Some of them still had the press materials in them!
In Texas, our bookstore of choice is Half-Price Books. While we were away, in our visits home to Houston, we left room in our suitcases so that we could stock up on paperbacks and children's books and whatever we wanted. They also buy books, so on our trips now, I load up a box of books to sell, and hope that I'll be offered enough to be able to buy some books at no cost.
Yesterday I had such a trip. I scored so many finds that I buzzed with excitement all afternoon. First, I had a successful selling trip, making $30 on my box of books. I had been browsing the Children's and YA departments, looking for some books for Kyle and Amanda. I was specifically hoping to find a copy of Mr. Popper's Penguins and The Outsiders, but I found neither.
However, a quick browse in the Children's Non-fiction shelves yielded exactly what I had hoped to find -- a quirky book of fun facts for Kyle, Actually, Factually: A Fascinating Collection of Myths, Mistakes, and Misconceptions -- with the Truth Behind Them and it was way less than half-price!
I also looked, as I always do to no avail, for Abraham Verghese's memoir, My Own Country: A Doctor's Story, that I've been intending to re-read over the last year or two. No luck.
I decided to check the Clearance section, where I've often found paperbacks for Amanda for as low as 50 cents, and it was there that I hit paydirt!
Kyle ordered one of the Teacher from the Black Lagoon short chapter books in his last Scholastic class order, and proclaimed that he was reading those books now. So I decided to go with the theme and get The Little League Team from the Black Lagoon.
The books on those shelves are a jumble of "catch as catch can" deals. Miraculously, my eye was drawn to My Own Country, the book I've been literally (if casually) hunting for years! I grabbed up my $2 bargain, and kept scanning the shelves, a little invigorated by my find.
Christy Miller Collection, Volume 1, a hardbound collection of the first 3 of the Christy Miller Christian teen novels by Robin Jones Gunn. I bought these books for my sister-in-law Dana when she was about Amanda's age! As a super-cool aunt, I read them as well, and got caught up in the young Christy Miller's adventures.
A little more browsing uncovered Volume 3, books 7 - 9, and for $2, I decided to go for it. If she liked them, I figured I could find the middle three. Since these two volumes were shelved nowhere near each other, I decided to keep looking, and I uncovered Volume 4), books 10 - 12, which I'm not even sure I knew existed -- Christy Miller in college!
More hard searching paid off, and I found the missing Volume 2 as well! For $8 for 12 books, it was a no-brainer. I took the collections home and hoped that Amanda would be as happy as I was about them.
She was, although I couldn't get her to call Aunt Dana to share the excitement right away. "I'll call her after I read them," she promised.
And that's exactly what I love about books. They connect people. When I bought the Christy Miller books for my new sister-in-law, she thought I was pretty cool. When I read them and we talked about them, it helped us connect. When I was teaching middle school girls a couple of years later, I was able to connect with them over those books too.
Like most kids, my kids love getting stuff, and I figure that $2 on a book that they might love is money well spent and affection easily given.
Speaking of books -- here are some recently reviews that I've posted at 5 Minutes for Books:
Books (adult reads) with current giveaways:
- Alice Bliss, a delightful coming-of-age novel written for adults, but that would also be great for a high schooler.
- Paris, Baby! a funny yet heartwarming memoir by Kristen Lobe
- This is Just Exactly Like You, a quirky somewhat unbelievable novel that ended up capturing my heart
- Spousonomics, a really fun marriage book
- In Leah's Wake, a novel about a teen girl whose rebellion affects her whole family
- Faith, a novel by Jennifer Haigh, an author whose previous works I've loved
- Parents Behaving Badly, a suburban satire about Little League culture
- Treasures from the Attic: The Extraordinary Story of Anne Frank's Family, a really interesting look at Anne Frank's extended family, both before and after that story from the Secret Annex we know so well
- Best Books for Boys, an inspiring book for parents or teachers
- Frank and Ernest by the fabulously artistic Alexandra Day
- Small Saul, a book at a sweet boy who tries to become a pirate