Me: well I think it is…..
This past weekend, my friend Craig introduced me to the wonderful world on yard sales. He’s a seasoned yard sale shopper so his goal was to hit 23 houses before noon, which to me seemed a staggering amount. We only squeezed in around ten because he had us newbies with him–holding him back–dead weight.
Overall I found 13 books, none of which were more than 50 cents and one or two averaged around 10 cents. What you seem to come across most at yard sales (as happens a lot with used book shops as well) are the big selling summer books and Oprah’s book club selections. Though everyone’s junk is somehow varied in taste (yet, arguably somehow the same), the reading selections seemed to be very similar. If I’d suffered some sort of partial stroke and suddenly been so inclined as to read John Grisham, I could have collected his entire oeuvre for less than ten bucks and impressed my dad as well as most of my neighbors. Each house seemed to have at least one Grisham, the Oprah books, and some form of self help or religious books in common.
So the real book “finds” are in the marginal differences in collections. You start to overlook the usual suspects and skim for what’s exciting (which takes lots of practice). In my case, I’m always on the hunt for interesting old cookbooks and gardening books. I throw in a few popular books of years past if I think they might be at all interesting (or at least trade worthy at my local used book store) since they are so dirt cheap. Also, I grab any book that’s a nice hardback. Once in a while you actually even find a book you’d had on your wish list.
What were my purchases then?
- The Little Friend by Donna Tartt ( because it was a nice hardback with dust jacket and because I’d read The Secret History as well as attended one of her readings)
- two Augusten Burroughs memoirs (Dry and Running with Scissors…yes, because I saw the movie)
- Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (because I liked Prayers for Rain and because this novel in particular sounded like something I’d been working on writing at one time so I was curious)
- Savage Beauty by Nancy Milford (because I have her biography of Zelda and because I heard a review on NPR)
- three large hardback books that were pretty (I only recognized the titles of two of the three but honestly bought them just because they look so nice on the shelf and make me feel brainy)
- an old Good Housekeeping gardening book
- a cookbook for camping (not that I camp…just like the concept)
- All the Pretty Horses (because I saw the movie and because I recently learned that I like Cormac McCarthy despite my previous hesitations)
- The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (not sure why–I think because I remembered it being on the NYT best seller list and I think I’m about the only person left who hasn’t read it)
- The American by Henry James (because who doesn’t love Henry James….and didn’t have a copy of this book….even though I’m sure I could have found a copy for free at http://www.manybooks.net)
Craig is a much better book finder than i am. I think he’s completely incapable of seeing the tired old blockbusters and only sees the obscure. He quickly finds neat old books on interesting topics or collectible editions of poetry. His collection is infinitely more interesting than my own. Every time we shop for books together, I secretly hope I’ll have his luck with great finds, but nope…it’s not luck…the man’s got skills. Check out this brief glimpse of his collection (pictured right). And there are hundreds more!