Friday, April 23, 2010

When books are really cheap

My kids school held a library fundraiser this week. It works like this. The kids bring in books from home and when they get hit benchmarks they get a prize (200 books gets you a popsicle party, 500 gets you a bookmark and so on.) The books sell for a pittance ( $1 each) and all the cash goes to buy new books for the school library. So it was my parental duty to pick up a stack, right? I did walk away with a small amount. Just six books. I picked up Monster of Florence, a Bryson book on Shakespeare, a book about Frederick the Great, Jesusland and a few others.

Who knows when I will read all these books, but really that rarely bothers me. The number of unread books I own rarely enters into my buying calculus. The key factors seem to be my desire to read the book, the possibility of never seeing the book again (which includes forgetting to look) and the cost. A low cost, as in a dollar, means that I even the barest chance of wanting to read it will lead me to pick up the book. After all, if I don't like it, I can lend it to someone else or trade it in at Powells.

I like the idea of having lots of books from which to choose, but the reality is less attractive. I end up forgetting what I have already purchased and often just grab the nearest book on the shelf for the next read. I stuff books in various corners of the house and forget they exist. Some get hidden behind the latest acquisitions. And then the stack of library books beckons with its urgency.

The thing is I like buying books for the sake of buying. Just exploring the piles and stacks of books, looking at the covers, and imagining the read build up to pleasurable time spent. Buying cheap books is like buying a lottery ticket. There is chance (a better one that the lottery!) you will get something out of it, but in the mean time you had a little cheap fun.


surprises aplenty said...

The big question here is how many books did you child(ren?) take to school. I could see your young one(s?) either needing a delivery truck or fighting with you to take just one to school.

Let's see, would you get rid of Nicholas Sparks quality books or keep them so know knew you were reading such trash? -Oh, I picked Sparks because I think you have mentioned his work here - clearly a discriminating reader like me wouldn't know firsthand about his books!

Tripp said...

Actually, the kids taking books to school is sometimes an issue. They take very many then leave them in the car where they end up in the oddest of nooks. Not a huge deal, expect when library return time comes around and we have to get books back to them, or when we have a favorite book we own become impossible to discover.

As you hint though, there are overlaps in book interest as they get older.

The technique when dealing with the likes of Sparks is to bury that book beneath other volumes in a bag. Then drop it off at Goodwill. No one's the wiser!

Speaking of Sparks, just hearing him name makes me want to act out the following, just repeating the word sparks.

Surprises Aplenty said...

Excellent work in comprehending that sentence about Sparks. This one "...keep them so know knew you were reading such trash"

Of course that should have been, " no one knew you were reading such trash"

Tripp said...

One must be very careful when dealing with a foe as dangerous as Sparks, it pays to read closely.