I’m sure there are folks who frequent them much more than I ever did, but, in my social circle, it was something I was known for. I was good-naturedly teased because of it.
If there was a book sale in my general area, I knew about it and was probably going to it. I would schedule time in my day, like an entire morning or afternoon, and, upon arrival, latte in hand, I would strategize based on the setup of the sale and genres. I sometimes brought friends with me too. And in the end, I’d come out with a bag or two full of tomes on travel, cooking, geography, history, poetry, and, of course, lots of fiction, both more modern and classic. Book shopping was my favorite. If I saw a book section at a yard sale, a discount store, or a thrift store, I would have to peruse it and see if anything piqued my interest. Most of the time, I would find something to take home. And I felt that I balanced out all the purchasing by selling and donating what I could stand to part with post-reading. It was heaven.
A few years ago though, my desire to go slowed down until it dropped off altogether. I started noticing just how full my large bookcase was and how I was having to double stack my collection. I could hear my mother’s words, “You have enough/too many books.” I hung my head when I saw what she saw. I do have enough/too many books. So, I stopped going to sales and stores. The good stuff was always gone at the “early bird” days anyway. And they didn’t generally have a whole lot of variety, what with about 20 copies of The Help and The Notebook, hoping to be snagged by the last 2% of the population who didn’t already own them. (Truly, no offense to those books, their authors, or their fans. Just trying to make a point.) My mind kept going back to where I could possibly store any more. In fact, a couple of months ago, when I cleaned out my closet, I found two shopping bags of books that I had FORGOTTEN ABOUT for at least a year. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.
Nowadays, I still go to used book stores, but a lot less frequently. Maybe once a year I allow myself to indulge in my version of retail therapy, and you know what? It’s quite satisfying. Going less often makes the trip and experience that much more special. I see much more variety in the selection, and I get to check in with the building. To me, it’s a wise old man with little glasses, keeping watch over all the wisdom and knowledge. And shockingly, I don’t haul a giant bag of loot out to my car like Santa Clause going down the chimney on Christmas night.
One day, when I have more space, like an entire room to consider as a library and writing room, I’ll go crazy again. But until then, I will have to keep it simple.