Wednesday, April 14, 2021

I'm in the Mood to Bring Home Some Books

Now that I've been fully vaccinated for a while, I've ventured back inside two different Barnes & Noble bookstores and one Half Price Books location. And, I've been pleased to find that the urge to buy physical books is as strong in me today as it ever was. In just the last three weeks, I've brought tree-book copies of these home with me:

I picked up a like-new hardcover of this one in Half Price Books for a whopping $4. This is book number six in Atkins's ten-book Quinn Colson series, a really good crime fiction series set in contemporary, small-town Mississippi. I started reading the series after snagging a review copy of the second series book back in 2012, but I've still only read the second, third, and fourth Quinn Colson books. Couldn't pass this one up at that price, and I'm looking forward to returning to that world soon. 

I bought this Tana French standalone after enjoying her latest book, The Searcher (which is the only other standalone French has published) so much. That one was my first exposure to French's writing, but I'm now such an enthusiastic convert to her books that I plan to snag the odd marked-down copy like this one whenever I run across them. I was happy to find a never-read copy for $10 at Half Price Books. 


About two weeks after purchasing The Witch Elm, I made another visit to Half Price Books and found a never-read copy of the second book in French's Murder Squad series. This one was published in 2008, so I was a little surprised to find a copy in such good condition for only $8. That gives me a little hope that, if my enthusiasm about the books holds up, I'll be able to put them all on my shelves at a fairly decent price...although I haven't priced the first book in the series yet, so that may not be true. 

As I've said many times, Library of America is my favorite publisher. I admire the job that this non-profit publisher is doing in printing high-quality editions of the best and/or most interesting writing this country has ever produced so much that I now have 118 of their books on my own shelves...and counting. LOA  have finally gotten around to Hemingway, and I found it on Amazon for $21.49. This is normally a $47 book, so there's no way I could have passed it up at the sale price.

At the same time as I was buying the Hemingway, I noticed that the LOA edition of Jean Stafford's novels was also on sale for $23.95. This one is a little slimmer than the Hemingway book, but it is regularly $40, so it seemed like the perfect time to add Stafford to my collection - and reading experience as well. The three novels were published between 1944 and 1952, and Stafford is one of those writers whose work is in danger of just dropping through the crack. One of LOA's mission is making sure that kind of thing doesn't happen. 

Reading Walter Mosley's fifteenth Easy Rawlins novels a few days ago made me want to read some of the earlier books in that series, and I spotted this one at one of the local Barnes & Noble's stores (the good one...more on that later). Devil in a Blue Dress is actually the first book in the series, and the edition I have is an oversized paperback that was on sale for $6 the day I was in the bookstore. 



As much as I have enjoyed each of the Easy Rawlins books I've read, I like some of Mosley's standalones even better than the Rawlins books. I found Down the River Unto the Sea on the same B&N visit I mentioned above. This one is about a New York cop who was framed and did prison time before becoming a private detective. I find it interesting that it is set on the East Coast, a country...and world...away from Easy's West Coast setting. This never-read hardcover was $7. 

The Guns of Last Light is part three of Rick Atkinson's "Liberation Trilogy," the author's World War II trilogy. It's almost 850 pages long, so I'm guessing that the trilogy must be close to 2,500 pages all told. This is a quality product; it's on heavy, paper and includes some nicely reproduced black and white photos from the European battlefields. My father was in almost all of the battles chronicled in the book, and I'm hoping that the book can give me a better understanding of what he went through during the war. I doubt I'll ever read the whole thing, but it's perfect for dipping into and out of as the mood strikes.

Now, back to that comment I made earlier about the "good" Barnes & Noble store. I am near-equidistant from two B&Ns, and the two could not be any more different if they purposely worked at it. One store has almost completely eliminated its marked-down fiction section; the other seems to have expanded it. One devotes more and more floor space to toys, games, stationary, greeting cards, and calendars all the time; the other seems to be holding the line on those items. One has eliminated so many bookshelves, that browsing the store is like walking through a forest after a brushfire has killed a third of the trees. The other has rearranged the front door area display, but not messed around with the other shelving at all. One will get my business from now on...one will not.

18 comments:

  1. It's been forever since I've been in a bookstore. Sadly, all the really good bookstores near me have gone out of business. I'm left with a middling Barnes & Noble and a small used bookstore that never has anything interesting. But yay for you for bringing home such a lovely book haul. Happy reading! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Going back into a bookstore was a big step back toward normality for me, Lark. I'm finding it interesting how different various locations of B&N bookstores are. I never realized how much influence a store manager must have on the stores. The two I visit are only about 16 miles apart, but they are noting alike except for the surface stuff that doesn't really count anyway.

      Delete
  2. I'm still filling up my Kindle, but I did reserve two library books this week so hopefully a trip to the library will happen next week. Like Lark, I have no good bookstores close to me and tend to wait until I'm away on holiday for trips to a bookshop. Heaven only knows when that will happen again. The Tana French finds were pretty nifty!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My library still hasn't opened its doors and no one is talking about when that might finally happen. Curbside pickup is nice, but it's just not the same, so I'm really looking forward to getting back inside.

      Cath, I can't imagine not being within easy driving distance of a decent bookstore. It must be such a treat when you get the opportunity to visit one...here's hoping that happens for you soon.

      Delete
  3. Hi Sam, I know what you mean about Barnes and Noble stores converting themselves into stores that sell toys, puzzles, greeting cards etc. It must be because book sales are down. Our local Barnes and Noble closed last year. Very sad. I think if the boks were to be redesigned. Go back to the way paperbacks used to look, smaller with really good art work on the cover like the pulp covers of the 1930's and 1940's these are books people would want to own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a neat idea, Kathy. I know people who collect those early paperbacks to this day, and the displays are really fun to look at. A couple of publishers have taken to either reissuing some of those old books or publishing new novels with similar cover art, so maybe this is the time for that kind of comeback to take root.

      I think that e-books, largely because of the pandemic, have finally become the go-to books for the majority of readers, and I find that more than a little sad even though I have a few hundred e-books myself.

      Delete
  4. I love how you haven't lost your book-buying urges. LOL Such great deals as well. Our library is open everyday again but, I'm still loving the curbside pickup. I purchased sever NYRB Classics this month which sound good and look so nice on the shelves too LOL - We almost went in B&N today to browse books but opted for a Dairy Queen cone instead!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nothing really compares favorably to physical books, Diane. E-books, for me, still tend to get lost somewhere in the cloudy world of my Kindle and tablet. Out of sight, out of mind...sometimes forever. Heck, my shelves are so full right now, that I've come to really enjoy shuffling things around once a month or so trying to decide which ones need to be replaced by the new purchases that deserve their spots. I find that whole process to be very relaxing, probably because it reminds me so much of browsing the shelves of a bookstore or library. I can spend hours doing it once I get started.

      Delete
  5. I'm ready to get back into book stores but I really absolutely don't need any more books. Our Barnes and Noble has so much more junk than it used to, I'm hoping they can survive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Teresa, survival is really what it's all about. Back in the day, Barnes & Noble was pretty cut-throat about driving smaller indies and chains right out of business if they could. And then, irony of all ironies, along came Amazon to ruthlessly do the same to them. Because of that history, I don't have as much sympathy for B&N as I otherwise would, but I sure would miss them if they bit the dust.

      Delete
  6. Great haul, Sam! This should keep you busy for a while!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jen. They will definitely keep me busy. Having them in the house feels a little like having enough money in the bank for the foreseeable future. LOL

      Delete
  7. Books, loverly books! I'm wondering if it will be long before I find myself going through the doors of The Poisoned Pen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could no longer resist. My vaccine protection is at its likely peak, and my wife is a few days from being there now...so I gave in.

      Went to a used-book bookstore a few miles away today, and for $3.49 found a never-read, signed, trade paperback copy of Wortham's "The Rock Hole." That made me happy...

      Delete
  8. My closest B&N seems to be going the way of your not-so-favorite store - more games and toys, fewer marked-down books. They still have their book clearance section, but it's not as big as it used to be. It also seems they have fewer of their Buy 2 Get 1 Free type sales. Bummer. I love buying books, especially new books, but they're so expensive that I won't buy them without using some kind of discount coupon or price drop.

    I'm glad you found some French novels. I love her books, so I really hope you enjoy them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. B&Ns seem to be in big trouble these days. When book-lovers begin to doubt their floor plan choices, it's getting bad. I wonder why they don't try for more volume instead of lower volume at higher prices. Cutting out the markdowns is a deal-killer for me. That's been my favorite part of their stores for a long, long time.

      Delete
  9. It sounds like you got some wonderful books. I am a fan of Tana French and have read most of her series books but none of the standalone books. I also like Walter Mosley's books that I have read (the first two Easy Rawlins books and one of the Fearless Jones books).

    Half Price Books sounds great. We have no Barnes and Noble store. We do have a wonderful independent book store but I would love to have more options.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tracy, I consider myself very lucky to have a few bookstores within a few miles of me. Half Price Books is an excellent place to find surprisingly cheap books at times because they do such a huge volume of business in the state of Texas that they are always in the process of culling the slower-sellers from their inventory. And since they buy directly from the public, you just never know what you are going to find there next.

      Delete