Never Judge a Shop by its Contents

While visiting sister and brother-in-law this week, I made the rounds of used book shops. At the end of the weekend, after finding a traditional German sausage maker and an Italian bakery which felt like a time warp to the 1940s in all the good ways, my family was at a small upscale Italian pastry shop. While they were enjoying gelato, I was checking out the shops in the area. One in particular looked like the sort of place that you could offload some merchandise with few questions asked. Among the VCRs and collection of DVDs, some still marked from a library or video rental, there were several shelves overflowing with books. Most were the typical fare of pulp fiction, Clancy and Steele paperbacks stacked two or three deep with no apparent order. While digging through the piles, I did find a couple that were interesting. I wished I had the time to sort through the dreck and find all the forgotten treasures you could see poking out here and there. Next to a copy of Animal Farm (which I promptly picked out and dedicated to Professor Boxer), was The Allegory of Love by C. S. Lewis. Jackpot. It was labeled "$3". I took it up to the proprietor of the place, the kind of guy you wouldn't look at twice if he was sitting on a stoop with a bottle in a paper bag, with a Styrofoam cup for change.

Enboldened by the literary scores I'd made that week, I asked if he'd take two dollars. He looked at the book and said "Sure. Anyone who reads C. S. Lewis is ok by me." I replied that I doubted he sold much of the sort. "Not really. As you can see I devote real estate to books out of principle, not because they sell." I paid him, thanked him and left.

Here's a list of what else I picked up at other shops over the weekend:
  • Thus Spake Zarathustra
  • Beyond Good and Evil
  • Fear and Trembling (an absolutely beautiful copy which promptly replaced my worn Dover edition picked up for Boxer's philosophy class)
  • The Book of War
  • Teeth of the Tiger
  • The Cuckoo's Egg
  • Augustine's Sermons to the People
  • The Second Oldest Profession (as honorable as the first)
  • The Spy Who Came In From The Cold
  • Parliament of Whores
  • Grimm's Faery Tales
  • My Secret War (by Kim Philby)
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • The Peloponnesian Wars
  • Years of Upheaval (The lady at one shop threw this in for free, completing my set of Kissinger's Memoirs)


Mark and Erin said…
Nice haul! We haven't found any good book stores down here, but we do like the library book sales. Especially the last day, where they give everything away for free. :-)
Hope you are doing well!!

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