Don’t you just love seeing the package delivery truck pull up in front of your house? One of the unspoken pleasures of a porous memory is that, in the time it takes for the “free delivery” purchase to arrive, I can completely forget what I ordered. It’s like a surprise birthday present (the present, not the birthday; I still remember my birthday).
My favorite add-to-cart therapy comes from ordering books from ABE.com (American Book Exchange). Place an order today, for say four books, and you can receive four packages over the next four weeks, for about $20.
Out of consideration for the livelihood of my favorite authors, I usually buy new releases when they come out in soft cover. But when I want to binge read Wallace Stegner, Graham Greene, Edward Abbey, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ernest Hemingway, or any of my favorite now deceased writers, I buy used books. If I’m perfectly honest, I’ll admit to buying used books of living authors whom I have only recently discovered. It would not be affordable for my budget to order all of Kazuo Ishiguro’s earlier novels when I ordered his latest Klara and the Sun.
But once I’ve discovered a writer who captures my attention, I’m hooked for life. Someone loaned me Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible and I’ve purchased every new novel she’s released (hard cover, no less) since I read it and every previously published novel, used from ABE.com.
My niece, who works for a pest control service is horrified to think of me bringing used books into my home for fear of bed bugs, yet she shops second hand stores for her clothes. I have a feeling that libraries would be infested with the critters if that were really a problem.
The biggest danger of cheap books is over-burdening my book shelves. It’s too easy to order books I never get around to reading, which I store for years. You know the kind: Moby Dick (started it three times), Don Quixote, or any of those classics that I thought would look good on my shelves. There they sit, nestled between the oft read and lovingly remembered volumes: Desert Solitaire, A Walk in the Woods, Black Beauty, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, The Lacuna, Bonk, and the list goes on and on.