The Next Chapter: The Lost Art of Browsing

I am a crazy book person.  Even though I have plenty of books to read at home, on May 4th I took an Uber to the Colonie Town Library for their book sale. As it turns out,  there were also sales at the East Greenbush and Schenectady libraries on the same day,  but I thought Colonie was the closest.  I was glad to be out and about,  doing what I love most, browsing for books to buy.

I was very happy that I went. I bought 15 books and it was an eclectic mix. I found classics,  post modern novels and even some popular fiction like Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I found classics I was looking for like The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane and The Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London.  Both are authors I haven’t read anything by,  so I am looking forward to reading those books. I also found a copy of the Latin classic The Golden Ass by Apuleius. On the more post Modern spectrum I bought copies of Roberto Bolano’s The Savage Detectives  and Blindness by Jose Saramago. I also bought the first volume of Karl Ove Knausgard’s My Struggle.

There were books by authors I wanted to read more of of like Joyce Carol Oates’ Angel of Life, and A Yellow Raft in Blue Waters by Michael Dorris. I remember my mom used to have a copy of Peace Like a River by Lief Enger. I also bought The Winds of War by Herman Wouk, a Penguin classics edition of the Indian novel The Guide by R.K. Narayan and a NYRB edition  of A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes. I also bought a mystery novel by Nicholas Blake called The Widow’s Cruise and a book I never heard before called Kissing in Manhattan by David Schickler. For a dollar,  how can you go wrong?

Usually when I go to book sales, I usually have a list in my head of books I want.  At The Book House a couple of months ago,  I finally bought a copy of A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. My mom raved about it after reading it for her book club. I am still looking for Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders and Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Eagan.

I also keep a lookout for books from my favorite authors.  I want to read Death Comes For the Archbishop by Willa Cather but I don’t have a copy. I gave away my copy of The Children by Edith Wharton and immediately regretted it.  I need a replacement copy. I am becoming a big fan of Adlous Huxley and think I would like his novels Eyeless in Gaza and Island.  I have not read a Graham Greene book I didn’t like and am looking for a copy of The Quiet American,  which takes place in Vietnam. And I loved reading last year The Moon and Sixpence and want to read Cakes and Ales by M Somerset Maugham.

We seem in the days of the Internet and iPhones to have lost the art of browsing.  I remember when I was a teenager, I would go to Strawberry Records and spend hours looking for an Elton John or Beatles album I didn’t have. I remember in my 20’s there was this old bookstore on Broadway.  I don’t remember the name of it but it used to have books stacked up high on tables. The cranky bald headed store owner would get upset if you disturbed the towering piles of books but I found in those piles books by John Updike,  Mary Mc Carthy or Jean Genet I knew I had to buy. I could spend hours there just looking at all the books. Unfortunately, the store is empty, another piece of blight in downtown Albany. I miss that store but that’s ok. A couple of weeks ago,  my friend Bev and I just happened to spot a sale at a Knight’s of Columbus on Route 7 and I found three Penguin Classics editions of Iris Murdoch books, The Bell, Nuns and Soldiers and a Fairly Honourable Defeat. My advice to all my bookish friends is don’t be afraid to browse. You never know what you will find if you aren’t looking for it.

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