I know – you probably haven’t spent all weekend worrying about my no-book-buying challenge. But as you may remember, I have made a commitment to mostly stop buying books – and to make exceptions for good reasons, which you can read about here – for the foreseeable future. My challenge has been in place for 26 days, and I have bought three books – which is ridiculous, I know. The average American doesn’t buy three books in twenty-six years, for God’s sake. Here’s a little tour of my exceptions:
I’ve already written a bit about this purchase, which I consider to be a responsible one. I bought it at the grand opening of the new Green Apple Books branch in my neighborhood. One of the rules that I sometimes like to follow is that when I go to a used or independent bookstore, I should buy only books that I have never heard of before. In other words, if Amazon has been sending me emails about something, don’t buy it at Green Apple. Sometimes I don’t have a lot of faith in my memory of books I want to read – which is ironic because for the most part my memory is so hyperactive that I’m kind of a walking freakshow. Yet I have a hard time seeing a book I want and trusting that if I really do want it, I will remember the title and author and can find it in the library or buy it sometime in the future.
This book qualifies – I had heard of neither the title nor the author before I found it in Green Apple. I now know from reading the back cover that the author went to one of the schools where I used to teach – or, more specifically, she went to the girls’ “half” of the school, back before a boys’ school and a girls’ school merged to form the school where I taught. When I worked there from 2002-04, the campus of the former girls’ school was used for a hodgepodge of things: the HR and IT offices were there, and the day care center for employee children, and a backup cafeteria for special events. Heck, I might have signed up for TIAA-Cref in her old dorm room, for all I know.
The author also committed suicide when she was 26. I’m expecting that this novel might be a little Sylvia Plathy, but in a good way.
To the right is the only recent book purchase of which I am not especially proud. Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is a favorite of mine and I recently read and reviewed The Goldfinch, and I wanted to revisit The Little Friend, which I bought when it was first published but quickly poo-poohed. At some point it exited my collection, probably in 2004. So all of this is just fine – nothing wrong with revisiting a book I once dismissed – but this is the sort of book I should have borrowed from the library. I doubt I will ever read it more than once, and will my life be enriched by the fact that it is in my collection? Not likely.
I bought it, by the way, at the Barnes and Noble in Dublin, CA, last Wednesday when I was driving through the area on my way home.
Finally, I bought The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England. I consider this book a relatively wise purchase. I have wanted this book for a long time, for one thing. I saw it at Green Apple’s original Clement location when it was first published a couple of years ago, and I wanted it – badly. I was proud of myself for resisting, since it’s a long book and the hardcover copy would have made it unwieldy to carry around – and it always takes me a long time to read history books, anyway (even though I love them). Right now, I’m reading, among other things, a book about the Black Death by Norman F. Cantor, and it reminded me of how much I want to read this book. I know the late Plantagenets quite well because they’re the subjects of most of Shakespeare’s history plays, but I really don’t know anything at all about Henry III or about any of the Edwards (and there are a lot of Edwards). One of my stupid pet tricks is that I can name all the monarchs of England (and later of Great Britain) from Richard II to the present. My goal is that after reading this book I can start with Henry III. And after that I will turn my attention over to world hunger.
I bought this book last Friday at the new Green Apple location. I made the decision to buy the book, walked there, browsed a ton but only bought this book, which is an accomplishment for me.
Finally, how about one more impromptu book-buying rule? I can’t buy any more books under any circumstances – even if a whole truck full of puppies will die - until I’ve read these three? Can I do it? I don’t know. Let’s find out.