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the ocean always dreamed blue dreams

I acquire some books

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I got up yesterday morning, a Saturday, around 5:45. I washed my face and dressed and walked to my car in the dark. I stopped by my local Starbucks and treated myself to a tall mocha.

I then made my way down Midway to 635; from there to Central Expressway from which I exited at Northwest Highway. My destination was the Half-Price Books located there, or rather the warehouse that I knew was located near it.

Once I arrived I noticed, somewhat to my chagrin, that there was a Starbucks right next to it. I ran inside and and asked the cheerful (at 7 a.m. on a Saturday; she is to be commended) young lady behind the counter if she knew where the warehouse was.
I'd already driven around the block and hadn't seen any parked cars or lines of people, short or long. "It's right next door, the second entrance. Just take the service road!" "Thanks," I hollered and sure enough it was just as easy as she'd said it would be. And there were the parked
cars and a very small gathering of people. I settled in to wait for the requisite two hours.

I love Half-Price Books. They do some things they shouldn't. They buy remainders (no money for the authors), and they will buy your papaerbacks back-for a pittance. The amount is so small I quit taking my books to them
years ago, although I do shop there frequently. Since I live in a very small house I really need to watch the number of books I own. I'm already at my limit. But I love them so much! I enjoy shopping off Amazon, and I'm not averse to reading something with a light behind it, but truly, nothing beats
browsing in a bookstore for sheer fun. Or a library. But I wasn't actually here for myself. On most Saturday mornings Half Price Books opens their warehouse doors to teachers and homeschoolers and non-profits. Those who arrive are given two boxes which they may fill and take, for free.

When I first discovered this service people could take as many books as they could carry. It all had a rather unpleasant dog eat dog feel to it. The two box limit is a nice change. I got two boxes. I'm not sure if I got the best books I could have, but c'est la vie. "Where are the books for young adults? For teen-agers?"
I asked. Those I asked weren't sure. They thought they were mixed in. For some reason I assumed they meant with the paperbacks, so when they opened the doors at nine that's where I went. Wrong. They were mixed in with the books on the three tables marked "Children" and those were gone within about five minutes, maybe less. I waited by the tables, though, because then people sat down and
went through their boxes and put things back they didn't need. So I ended up with a decent selection of about fifty paperbacks. Now we'll see if my students like ANY of them.

Oh, I also got a few books for myself.

Once I'd finished pawing through the kid's books I checked out the classics sections, as well as biography, the regular paperbacks, and the cookbooks. This is what I found:

Thirty Minute Meals by Rachel Ray. I think this may be her first one. She looks so young on the cover. I'm pleased because I'm too cheap to buy something like this new.
Cherry by Mary Karr. I'll put it next to Liar's Club which I've owned for about two years, and which I have yet to read. It just looks so grim. Lit is next. I'm determined.
The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The Thousand and One Nights, translated by Edward William Lane. I've been thinking about getting this one and here it has dropped into my lap!
Dante's Divine Comedy translated by Henry F. Clay. It has long been on my 'to read' list. Hopefully it won't be much longer.
A Hearbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. I will probably read this next. It looks like the kind of thing I like.
The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence. It looks interesting, but crimeny, it's massive.
City of Joy by Dominique LaPierre. Also large. I think I'll be able to read it without hyperventilating. The first page looked good. Beautiful, crunchy prose. I've seen the movie.
Made in America by Bill Bryson. I like Bill Bryson. I'm not sure abut this one. I don't generally enjoy non-fiction.
Classic Readings in Sociology, edited (I assume) by Eve Howard.
Love Letters, An Illustrated Anthology, edited by Antonia Fraser. I have to admit it was interesting to read James Joyce's letter to Nora Barnacle. Who'd a thunk?
Tis by Frank McCourt. I have yet to read "Angela's Ashes" either, but I'm feeling more confident in my ability to do so. I really want to read "Teacher Man" for obvious reasons.
Howard's End by E.M. Forrester. I'll probably try to read Room With a View first. I love the movies; now it's time to read the books.
girlbomb, A Halfway Homeless Memoir by Janice Erlbaum; I originally picked this up for my students, but I suspect it's a bit raw even for them-they're just 14.
Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child. He writes a good mystery.
The Secrets of a Fire King by Kim Edwards. I don't know anything about this author or this book beyond the fact that it's a collection of short stories.
Mockingbird Years by Emily Fox Gordon. I'm about half way through this. Her prose is gorgeous. It reminds me a bit of "Girl Interrupted". The young protagonist (the author, it's a memoir) reminds me of myself, and her childhood also reminds me a great deal of mine. It's been just the thing for this dreary, rainy weekend.

That's it. I think, all in all, it was a Saturday morning well-spent.

Updated 12-07-2011 at 08:43 PM by qimissung



  1. Dark Muse's Avatar
    The two things I like most about Half-Price books is that you can tell them to recycle any books which they cannot use, so I use them mostly to get the books off my hands which the other used book store I like to go has no use for and won't buy back. Also the Half-Price books out here has a great selection of $1 books. Most places it is made quite obvious why the books are only a dollar, but at Half-Price, I have acutally gotten some really good classics in thier $1 bin.

    And I have to say I absolutely loved "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" In ways it almost reminded me of "A Catcher in the Rye" Though I know for some people that would be a death sentence to make that comparison.
  2. PrinceMyshkin's Avatar
    "well spent" indeed - and so generously recreated here. Wee quibble about "City of Joy" since I just saw it on TV a day or two ago: maybe the writing is a bit more tough but the movie was pretty schmaltsy! I mean, virtually the whole of Calcutta waiting to be rescued by one white American!!
  3. qimissung's Avatar
    It's been awhile since I've seen it. But that's what we white Americans do, Prince, didn't you know that? We save the world!

    I love their sale racks, DM. I, too, have gotten some good books dirt cheap there, which is one reason why I like them. Thanks for the input on "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius." I liked "Catcher in the Rye," so I'm cool with the comparison.

    Thank you both for reading.
    Updated 12-04-2011 at 08:58 PM by qimissung
  4. Dark Muse's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by qimissung
    I love their sale racks, DM. I, too, have gotten some good books dirt cheap there, which is one reason why I like them. Thanks for the input on "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius." I liked "Catcher in the Rye," so I'm cool with the comparison.

    Thank you both for reading.
    Haha ok, I was a bit worried when I sad that, it might turn you away from reading a really good book.
  5. Jack of Hearts's Avatar
    Angela's Ashes and 'Tis were good reads.

    Regarding Joyce's letters, it's just funny to see colossal talent throw itself behind something like that. The weird part is, reading those letters, you begin to think that's perverted but somehow elegant in terms of style.

  6. qimissung's Avatar
    Thanks for reading, Jack.

    I know Angela's Ashes will be good, I'm just a chicken about immersing myself in the pain.

    As to your observation, I agree. I don't read letters of famous people much, but on one hand to get such a genuine and intimate peek into the minds of certain people was to much to resist.
  7. TheFifthElement's Avatar
    Sounds like my idea of a perfect day out, awash with books and the difficult part choosing. But the important question is did your students like any of the books you chose?

    P.S. A Room with a View is probably my favourite movie of all time (even more so that The Fifth Element, can you believe it?) I read the book a few years ago and it's equally good, as is A Passage to India. Forster is a wonderful writer.
  8. qimissung's Avatar
    It was fun, Fifth, apart from the early rising. I think they will. One girl borrowed a book already.

    Here are some of the books I got for them:

    Piratica by Tanith Lee
    Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements
    three books in the Clique series by Lisa Harrison (that's one of the books that was borrowed).
    Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
    The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
    Stones in Water by Donna Napoli
    Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl
    The search for Delicious by Natalie Babbit
    Ghost Stories edited by Robert Westall
    Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul II
    Hostage to War, A True Story by Tatjana Wassiljewa
    The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
    Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse
    Summer of the Swans by Betsey Byars
    The Birchbark House by Louise Edrich
    Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood
    Bad boy: A Memoir by Walter Dean Myers
    The Dive from Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer
    The Orphan of Ellis Island by Elvira Woodruff
    The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
    The Secret Language of Girls by Frances O'Roark Dowell
    Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul
    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
    Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
    Civil War Ghosts by Daniel Cohen
    The Call of the Wild by Jack London
    Wild at Heart by Laurie Halse Anderson

    I have the greatest hopes for the Clique series and the Walter Dean Myers memoir. The kids seem to like books by those authors. My fingers are crossed, anyway.

    A Room with a View is one of my favorite movies, too! It's so funny. You hardly ever get much humor from the classics, I've noticed.
    Updated 12-06-2011 at 02:40 PM by qimissung
  9. prendrelemick's Avatar
    A great account. I can't believe you can get 50 free books.
    Thank goodness there is nothing like this near me. I would not be able to resist - and my shelves are full.
  10. mtpspur's Avatar
    Sounds good--some of these. I tend to read genre material at best and I've been skimming some of the older stuff here at Litnet--was looking at H> G. Wells the other day --mostly because a friend of mine likes him a lot and a comic reprint of Food of the Gods is coming out soon so was refreashing my memory of it.
  11. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    WOW! What a rush that must have been. Truly exciting! Some great titles as well. I am aware of the letters written by James Joyce. Should look it up for fun.
  12. qimissung's Avatar
    Thanks for reading, Pren, Rich, and Bee.

    I know, Prendrelmick, mine are too,and I get too many. I got a copy of Ivanhoe and no one is going to read that. I already own a copy and yet I couldn't resist, it was such a pristine copy. Most of the books are for my students, or are supposed to be anyway, remember.

    Well,pat yourself on the back because H. G. Wells is the master of science fiction, isn't he Rich. Although I've never read his stuff, they are the basis for a number of fine movies.

    It was tremendous fun, Bee, and I'm planning to go back...soon. Kind of a guilty pleasure, however. You have to lug all those books around, I have to lug them to my classroom (on the third floor, no elevator key), and there's no more room on my shelves. Love, however, will find a way.
  13. LadyLuck's Avatar
    I would tell your students to pick op the copy by Doyle, but that's just me I'm a bit partial there, and I love his stories. I already have a complete treasure trove of his works added to the kids' nook... well, actually that bit is more for me, but I keep hoping to inspire my son with something better than "Captain Underpants".
  14. qimissung's Avatar
    Actually, I love Captain Underpants. So subversive. But I love Sherlock Holmes,too.

    They really tend to like the Fear Street books and the boys like the Cirque du Freak books. They've also discovered the Matt Christopher books about sports.
  15. LadyLuck's Avatar
    I've tried and tried, but I can't find any like of Captain Underpants I'll have to look into the Cirque du Freak books. It's basically a staple, but the Magic Treehouse books are well loved too.
  16. Virgil's Avatar
    It's always great when you get book bargains like that. I love that too!

    Of the books for yourself, I've read Dante and Howard's End. I had never seen the Clay translation, and it's actually in the public domain being written in 1817 I think it said. It seemed like a passable translation, having read the first canto, enough for one to get the narration. It wouldn't be my choice if you wanted more than that. But hey, the price was right. I hope it has some annotation.

    Howard's End is a fine novel. A really good read.

    Of the student's books, Hound of the Baskervilles and The Call of the Wild are both good reads.