Thursday, May 19, 2011

I love a good bookstore trip

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.

What I found next literally caused my heart to skip a beat: 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
Other adult fiction and nonfiction:
Picture books:
Young Adult fiction:
  • Abandon, the first in the Underworld series by Meg Cabot
  • Enclave, a very Hunger Games-esque novel from a new author, Ann Aguirre
  • Awaken (with fun mother-daughter video), another dystopian novel


Carrie said...

You make me long for another trip up to Powell's myself! And I LOVE Half-Price Books and miss them greatly. You seriously CANNOT beat their prices. I almost have to bring along an extra suitcase to Texas (whenever I have to go to TX, that is) to load it with reasonably priced amazing books! =)

Trish said...

Sounds like you've found another great bookstore! Glad they are still around. :)

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Oh I completely agree. And living near a good/decent bookstore is a requirement for me.

I was at Half-Price Books last night. I carried in 6 loads and came out with $72. I resisted the urge to buy any books last night, simply because I'm trying to get things OUT of the house, but it is always a temptation to come home with one or two more... :)

Jen Rouse said...

I am just amazed at all the reading you get through!

And I do love Powell's too. I'm about an hour and a half away, and it's not close enough :)