Shopping on Black Friday

For years I’ve said, rather smugly, I’m sure, that I wouldn’t shop on Black Friday.  Of course for the last ten years or so I’ve been at work on Black Friday, making the point moot.  But our work schedule has changed, and I was home today, and yes, I went shopping.  But not at the mall or the big box stores.

Two of the friends that I had Thanksgiving dinner with yesterday were going shopping last evening, which I never even considered.  (Their two top destinations were Victoria’s Secret and Toys R Us, which I thought was an interesting combination.)  But this morning, after several days of very cold and very wet weather, was cool and sunny, perfect weather for getting out and doing something.

I don’t do much in the way of Christmas shopping, but I had some things I needed.  I was running low on cat food, I have a friend with a birthday next week, and I always need something at the grocery store.  So I set out with my shopping list and coupons, only to discover that the vet clinic (where I get the diet food that doesn’t seem to causing any noticeable reduction in Nutmeg’s weight) was closed for the weekend.  But by then I was out and about, so I went on to Office Depot.

Office Depot was not crowded.  I bought a supply of pens, one of those folding cardboard science fair display boards (Jo Anne and I use them to hide our jigsaw puzzles from the cats, and the current one is falling apart), and a stuffed panda wearing a red and white muffler.  Okay, so I’m a sucker for stuffed animals, even at the office supply store.  And then the lady at the check out offered me an 800-sheet package of paper for $4.  Couldn’t turn that down.  No writer ever has too much paper.

Office Depot is next door to Half Price Books, as if I needed an excuse.  And I had a coupon.  So I came out with  Charlaine Harris’ Dead Ever After, the last Sookie Stackhouse novel (I haven’t read the previous one yet, but I’ll catch up), Janet Evanovich’s Takedown Twenty (I’m up to date on Stephanie Plum’s adventures, and this one will go on the To Be Read Soon pile), and two collections by David Sedaris, whom I always enjoy when I catch him on NPR.  And a stuffed Frost Dragon.  Told you I couldn’t resist stuffed animals.  Half Price Books was fairly busy, but no more so than usual.

Next stop, Bed Bath & Beyond, which was probably the most crowded store I hit today.  I found a birthday present and some kitchen stuff–I don’t cook much, but I like gadgets.  No stuffed animals.  And then on to Barnes & Noble, which Fixing to Diewas not as busy as I expected.  I bought another birthday present there, and one book for myself, Fixing to Die, the latest installment in Elaine Viets’ series about mystery shopper Josie Marcus.  I’m a couple of books behind on that series (and a lot of others!), but I’d never pass up one of Viets’ books.

Finished up at the grocery store, which was crowded (I thought everyone was eating leftovers today), for a few things, which somehow cost me another eighty bucks.  But I remembered the birthday cards I needed and a few cans of non-diet cat food to tide Nutmeg over, and succumbed to temptation when I spotted the half-price sale on Dreyer’s ice cream (I bought mint chocolate chip, my lifetime favorite).

Tomorrow is small business Saturday, and I’ve been trying to think of some independent shops in my area.  Once upon a time there were lots of small books stores, selling both new and used books, but sadly they’re all gone now.  Maybe I’ll have lunch at a non-chain restaurant.  Or maybe I’ll stay home and read.

Books, books, books.

I braved the heat to do some shopping today, looking for a birthday present for my neighbor, and the autopilot in my car dragged me into the parking lot at Half-Price Books.  It often does, despite my continuing insistence that I don’t need more books.

I think I’ve actually bought, and read, more paper books than electronic since I bought my Kindle about three months ago.  And since  the Houston NPR station, KUHF, split into two channels, one news/talk and one classical music, I hear about even more interesting books, both the newly published and those going into paperback release, giving one show or another a good excuse to rerun an interview from last year.

A couple of weeks ago such an interview sent me over to Barnes & Noble to pick up a copy of Empire of the Summer Moon, the story of Quanah Parker, the last great chief of the Comanche, and the son of Cynthia Ann Parker, who was captured by the Comanche as a girl and grew up as one of them.  This week it was Last Call, a history of Prohibition.

So there I stood in the U. S. History alcove at Half-Price Books, staring at the shelves, neatly alphabetized by author, completely unable to remember the name of the writer whose interview had made me want to find the book.  What to do?  Well, I pulled my Kindle out of my purse, flipped the switch, turned on the wireless connection (I have the 3G version, which works anywhere you can get a cell phone signal), and searched the Kindle store for the book.  There are a LOT of books with the title Last Call, but there at the top was the one I wanted, by Daniel Okrent.  (No wonder I couldn’t remember the name.)  And there on the shelf was a copy of the hardback edition.

I also found a DVD for a friend, the birthday present I wanted for my neighbor (three novels by the very talented Deeanne Gist, who writes Inspirational Historical Romances that appeal even to Non-Inspired readers like me), and The Virgin’s Lover, a novel by Phillipa Gregory, whose books take me back to the sweeping historical fiction I read as a girl.

Last night I finished reading The Restorer, by Amanda Stevens, an excellent and scary romance/mystery about an archeologist who specializes in cemetery restoration.  (I have a degree in archeology and anthropology myself, and I never knew there was such a specialty.)  My only complaint about this book is that the sequel won’t be out until November.

Both Amanda and Deeanne are members of the West Houston RWA chapter, as are two other friends who are releasing some of their backlist books in electronic form.  Before Colleen Thompson wrote gritty romantic suspense, she wrote edgy historical romance under the name Gwyneth Atlee.  Several of these are now available again as ebooks.  Cheryl Bolen writes wonderful Regency era romances, and some of her out-of-print titles can now be downloaded as well.

Time to pick something from my ever-burgeoning collection of unread books.  I don’t think I’m quite ready to return to the world of The Hunger Games.  Maybe I’ll revisit Sookie Stackhouse in Charlaine Harris’ latest tale.  Or find out what’s happening with Cotton Malone in Steve Berry’s new one.  Or go to sleep, because I have to go to work in the morning.  Naw, that’s too practical.  The only problem with all those unread books (including the three I bought yesterday after the meeting) is choosing the next one to read.

Paper books are in no danger

in my library.  This afternoon I found myself pre-ordering three more from the Mystery Guild:  Charlaine Harris’ Dead Reckoning (the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel), Steve Berry’s The Jefferson Key (a new suspense thriller featuring Cotton Malone), and Earlene Fowler’s Spider Web (the latest installment in her Benny Harper quilt-themed mystery series).  All three will be available in ebook form (at prices comparable to the Mystery Guild’s), but I’m a long-time fan of these series and have all the previous books in hard cover.  I don’t want to break up the sets.

New books and old books seem to be widely available in electronic form.  Many publishers are making ebooks available as soon as the traditional versions hit the shelves.  And old classics, especially those no longer under copyright, abound.  Many of these are free or very inexpensive.  I certainly don’t begrudge a dollar or two to whoever has done the work of digitizing a book worth preserving.

But there’s a long stretch in the middle, books still under copyright but no longer current.  Over the last few weeks I’ve popped over to the Amazon site frequently, wondering if this or that old favorite is available as on ebook.  The answer is often no, but many are still around in print.  And I’ve been buying them, reminded by my browsing of books I really want to read again.

And if I want to read them again, why can’t I just pull them off my bookshelf?  Because I’ve lived in this house for thirty five years, and if I’d kept all the books I’ve owned over that time, the place would look like one of those trainwrecks on cable TV, a hoarding disaster.  I may not be a dedicated housekeeper, but you can see all my furniture.  The only obstructions on the floor are Nutmeg’s belongings.  She chews on newsprint, but as far as I can tell she doesn’t read.