I think Iliana and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to book shopping. We seem to frequently manage a visit to Half Price Books on the same weekend. But luckily we live in two different cities and no one will ever see us fighting over a book we both reached for at the same time on the clearance shelves.

I brought home six “new” books yesterday, three of them from the clearance shelves:

  • Habitations of the Word by William H. Gass. The very first essay is about Emerson. This book looks like it will be great fun. All for only $1!
  • Principle Products of Portugal (say that ten times fast!) by Donald Hall. Several of these essays are on reading, some on art, one on trees. All for only $1
  • The Group by Mary McCarthy. I bought it ($1!) because Litlove mentioned it not long ago. That’s the only reason I bought it.

The other three books did not come from the clearance shelves but were still pretty darn cheap:

  • Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper by Nicholson Baker. I dithered over this one. Put it back. Picked it up. Was about to put it back again but instead opened the cover to discover that Baker had signed it.
  • Given Sugar, Given Salt by Jane Hirshfield. Ever since Dorothy raved about this I’ve been on the look out. Finally my diligence has been rewarded.
  • Doctor Glas by Hjalmar Söderberg. This was a huge find. I first heard about this book from an essay Margaret Atwood wrote for the book Lost Classics. Then I found out not long after that the book was re-published with an introduction by Margaret Atwood. I’ve never seen the book on a bookstore shelf. I had given up looking for it even at Half Price Books. Then yesterday, after browsing the clearance, I looked at my little list of books to browse for to see if there was anything I wanted to look for before I went and found my husband. I saw Rebecca Solnit’s book on the list and since I’d be passing by the s’s on my way upstairs I thought I’d just see if they had the book. As I was orienting myself to the s-o’s Dr. Glas practically leapt off the shelf at me. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and I almost squealed. I forgot about Solnit and thought this had to be my lucky day and surely there must be another book I’ve been looking for there too but I had to look for it by not looking for it. So I pointed myself at a different shelf figuring wherever I ended up would be the right place. Of course it didn’t work. I told my husband about my ploy later and he suggested that next time I was feeling lucky instead of using my luck to try and imagine up another book I should use it to find the winning lotto ticket and then we could buy whatever books I wanted. I have to admit, he’s got a point with that one.

That was a fruitful outing. It made braving the 15 degrees and windy weather worthwhile.