Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lessons from BookSale

(In which my impulsiveness was once more elucidated.)

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I love BookSale’s bargain books. Aside from their wallet-friendly quality, (which comprises 50% of my penchant for them) they let the child in me come to life in every visit to this metropolitan paradise of secondhand books. What elation could be more childlike than the tickle a surprise gives? Imagine unearthing a work of a favorite author or a five-star book from a nook of a book-filled shelf? And priced more than 50% off the original? It’s like recovering a jade from the sand!

But of course, just like everything else, bargain books come with some catches. Generally, despite knowing that they’re not new, we somehow wish that they appear as something close to that. So what to do when they’ve got creases on the spine and/or dog-eared pages and/or a folded cover or a damaged jacket? Some will surely moan in pained disappointment upon encountering one and toss it back to the pile. But I won’t. I mean I won’t toss it back to the pile. For one thing I learned after years of surveying books at BookSale is to decide against procrastination or optimism that I might just be lucky to still find a really good book available on the next visit for it rarely happens. At least for me.

But this attitude also has its downs. Take for instance my visit to another BookSale branch where I found a totally beautiful-inside-and-out version of a book I already purchased. And then I couldn’t help imagining the one I bought – the ill-glued middle page, the folded cover and the frayed edges – while feeling the soft, almost new cover and looking at the intact leaves of the more carefully-kept copy. Now this time I have to (no, not toss) carefully put it back to the pile with a useless wish that I had found it earlier. And then I hope someone recover that jade-in-the-sand soon because it’s a truly awesome book.

But as what we already know, we are not supposed to judge a book by its cover, or by its price, or by the way the pages are pasted together. But what’s inside, printed on the however-looking leaf. For what will be ingrained in our memory is not how awfully secondhand or new the book was when we acquired it, but how the contents of that book changed our lives.

Now that’s another reason to love BookSale. Wow! I never knew a book store can be a good teacher too.