I feel like my last few posts have created a sense that I am an exercise nerd, but it should be noted that I am also a film nerd, and a wanna be math nerd, and cultural studies nerd, a documentary nerd, and, of course, I am the original flavor nerd: a book nerd. I am a rainbow of nerdiness. In a world that I feel has increasingly moved towards specialists, I am a generalist, which means that I know a little bit about a lot of stuff.
At the same time that I was doing my first bike race and making plans to go hang gliding, I also went to Half Price Books’ massive Clearance Sale, a sale so large that it was actually held at a convention center. I bought 19 books, most of which cost $1, the most expensive of which cost $2. (The wannabe math nerd in me, will point out that my total was $27, so on average, I spent less that $1.50 per book.)
When I am faced with a convention center’s worth of books spread out three rows deep across dozens of tables, I quickly realize that I need a system and possibly a few rules if (a) I’m going to get out of here with enough money left in my checking account to pay rent and (b) they aren’t going to keep the lights on all night so that I can make sure I haven’t missed any gems. Also, I used to move around quite a bit, so there is the practical concern that any book I buy might one day have to be boxed up and moved. After my last move where I packed 11 boxes to the point they became almost impossible to lift, I started using my library more and buying books a little less.
There are books that I know I should read, but I also know that I won’t. There just isn’t enough time to read everything, and so the first thing I considered and put back were books that I’ve mentally filed away as things I should read that are basically the vegetables of books. A lot of classics fall into this category, so no The Color Purple, no Hemmingway, no books about the ethical production of food, and several things that boasted being an Oprah Book Club selection from the 90s. If I haven’t gotten to it in 20 years, I am probably no going to.
I also considered and returned a lot of what I consider brain candy, which for me means Cozy Mysteries. Candy colored paperbacks about ladies who solve crimes through a specialized knowledge of a craft or business that they own and run, but largely neglect in favor of catching murderers. I can’t articulate what I like about these books, except to say that I have friends who read romances or young adult novels for a relaxing escape, and this is my version of that. Every time I picked one up, though, I remembered that I have a book about a comic book artist and a another one about a tattoo artist who solve crimes that I still haven’t read. The only exceptions would be the one volume Meg Cabot’s Heather Wells series (about a chubby former pop star who–obviously–solves crimes) that I don’t already have or any of Charlaine Harris’ Lily Bard series I don’t have because it is set in Arkansas, and I am a sucker for books that mention places like Conway and Little Rock where I have spent a lot of time.
Systematically, I worked through any genre that I have been known to buy books from: humor, memoir, science, and fiction which was by far the largest and most daunting section. Eric agreed to join me at the sale, but I’m not sure he knew what he was getting into as I diligently went through every single table in each section. My best friend, Christi, and I used to go to big sales like this in Atlanta, and we spent about the same amount of time poring over the merch. Eric did a quick pass of a few sections and then seemed to be done browsing. I worried about this, until he decided to spend him time photographing and texting me photos of some of the more hilarious book covers.
This kept him occupied and amused. Later, my brother would be sad to learn I didn’t get the Hasslehoff book, so I guess I know what to get him for his birthday in two weeks.
I started to find myself drawn to books that are a little harder to find, things that might not be at my local library, and a lot of books and authors that I wanted to read (as opposed to feeling the obligation to read) that I kept forgetting to check out.
After telling Eric I was going to go back and pick up one book I decided I wanted, and instead returning with 4 I hadn’t planned on getting, I decided I was done. The final stack looked like this:
A lot of chick lit, essay collections by funny ladies, at least one science book, a book about beer for kids and adults alike, and two mysteries by an Irish author who I was once obsessed with. Not a bad haul for under $30.