Wonderful Son Number One and one of my bosses both got me gift cards to Chapters for Christmas, so Saturday I went on an excursion. I rarely buy new books, because it's hard to justify $20 or $30 for something that takes me one day to read. Usually I prowl through the library or haunt the used book sales. But with gift cards, you can shop without guilt, because the money has already been spent on your behalf.
Walking into a book store is like entering a fabulous country, or a deli packed with delectable treats. You want to throw out your arms and sing. Such delicious covers, such intriguing titles, a collection of knowledge and entertainment at your fingertips. Even the people are interesting to look at, and you can tell in a glance if you share a common interest with someone by what they are browsing.
Chapters is slightly annoying in that they are not logically organized. They spread books on one topic all over the store, forcing you to scour every aisle...which of course is their marketing ploy...and the alphabet seems to meander from shelf to shelf in unpredictable directions. The shelving is so tall you can't gaze out over the vast room and orient yourself. And they don't stock an author's earlier works, only their later ones. It's whatever is hot at the moment plus a few stalwarts like Dickens and Hemmingway. Try to find an old Rosamunde Pilcher or Barbara Michaels. But there's still lots to tempt.
I went armed with a list of books I've been wanting to read for ages. I set a couple of rules for myself-- it would have to be something I would read and re-read, and it needed to be something I likely couldn't get in the library. I pre-ordered the latest Susanna Kearsley (trying to squash little twinges of envy that no one would or could pre-order my books). I love her work, and I like supporting local authors. I bought two Alan Bradley books (Flavia forever! Must get caught up), and debated long over the Charles Todds and Alexander McCall Smiths (but finally decided to search the library for those first). I like authors who don't keep you waiting long, but keep churning books out at a rapid pace. I once wrote to Laurie King to ask her to hurry up...well, not in those exact words. I said I was so eager to read her next one. She wrote back a very gracious reply.
The store didn't carry some of the other books I was looking for, including Anne Lindbergh's Gifts from the Sea (yeah, I know, I admit I've never read it). Some on my list they had but I couldn't justify the price. (Gee whiz, how can they justify that much money for a book? Yes, it's probably really well written, and yes, they have to pay for marketing and everything, but seriously, this isn't a 15th-century illuminated manuscript we're talking about here.)
I also selected The Distant Hours by Kate Morton just because I've enjoyed her other books. I got The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, and, lastly, a lovely little gem called Home: chronicle of a north country life by Beth Powning. Gorgeous photography and poetic prose that makes you feel as if you're taking a luxurious bath in warm honey as you read it.
This lovely stash will keep me happily occupied until I return to work on Friday. And the best thing is, I still have $54 on the gift cards to fantasize about. I would rather read than eat or sleep. And often do.