A Decisive Moment In the Life of This Reader

I’ve been ripping through the TBR lately, as you’ve probably noticed from the giveaways that have been hanging around on the blog. I’ve been continually victimized by polar vortices and because of this have made leaps and bounds forward in writing, reading and knitting. I also may have become slightly anti-social and stopped wearing makeup.

But I’m not sure that last bit has anything to do with the weather.

In any case, as I plow through my pile of ARCs I’ve also been wading into more weighty tomes. I’m a fan of the classics and I’ve recently rediscovered a less-well-known author of British parlor-room-and-Parliament drama, Anthony Trollope. If you have a spot in your heart for Dickens or Thackeray I highly recommend delving into Trollope as well.

The title I just finished – CAN YOU FORGIVE HER – is the first in what’s called the Palliser novels by Trollope. I grabbed an old tattered paperback at a library sale some years ago. I love well-worn, cheaply made books. I really do. The pages are like onion paper, the print is smudgy, and there are various fingerprints all over the thing. All four corners are feathered from who knows how many pairs of hands rubbing their thumbs on the edges while they hope and pray that the wellborn women they’re reading about make the right choice of husband. Sigh. Yes, even I fall prey to such things when couched properly.

So having escorted one such lady to the proper decision, I’m happy to move on to the next title – PHINEAS FINN – when I discover that the overly-handled set of paperbacks I grabbed on a whim a few years ago doesn’t have that one. It’s an injustice and an inconvenience so I tromp up the stairs from my library, up to my flannel-sheeted bed and burrow in to order a copy.

Except… I don’t really have to. Because I can download it. For free.

Now I’m in a pickle. A few minutes ago I’d been grumbling under my breath about inconvenience and here I find that I can have the words I’m searching for delivered to me. Right now. For free. But… my iPad doesn’t feather on the edges when I grip it during tea-time with a rascal, and the only fingerprints on the shiny screen are my own. What’s the fun in that?

On the other hand, I’m also a highly practical person and I’m unsure I want to spend money on something I can have for free. So I hit up some lovely book swapping sites – Bookmooch and PaperbackSwap – only to find that I appear to be the only person in the world with a Trollope addiction.

It looks like I’ll be spending money in order to fill out my Palliser set. I’m fine with that. Spending money on books is a good expenditure. Except… I can spend $9.00 on a brand new paperback and have it delivered for free because I’m an Amazon Prime member, or I can spend roughly the same amount of money and wait extra time for shipping because I’m buying used.

Yes. I am essentially volunteering to wait longer and pay for a dirty book.

I guess I just learned something about myself.


7 thoughts on “A Decisive Moment In the Life of This Reader

  1. And you shared it with us too! I'm with you on this one… it's the same difference between brand new squeaky-clean clothes and the elegant pieces that come from a good charity shop (thrift store?) and have a timeworn, faded character all of their own.


  2. And hurrah for Trollope, because unlike, say, Jane Austen, once you figure out you love him, you can keep reading for a very long time before you run out of books!

    We bought our house mostly because it had an old dairy barn that had been converted into an enormous library and most of the collected books were left with the house! So, among about 9000 other books, we 'inherited' a lovely set of the complete works of Trollope–including all the NF/travel books, etc.

    So between the three of us now sharing the library (me, my husband, and the previous owner of the house) we have at least two copies of all and three of most.

    But we're nasty book hoarders, so we won't part with our original copies. And we like the old set we inherited so much that we haven't yet managed to part with ANY of those, either.

    So it could be that there are plenty of us Trollope fans out there, just that no one's willing to part with such good old friends.


  3. I have a small hardbound Phineas Finn around here somewhere that I'd send you for free. It's slightly larger than a pocket book but in hard cover with a yellow dust jacket. At least that's how I remember it. I packed it up last September when I closed my thrift shop and brought all my books home to store in my basement. I could spend an hour or two searching through boxes marked “classics”. There are about 15000 books in my house right now. I'll never get around to reading the bloody thing so you're welcome to it.


  4. Just download it and save your money for buying another book new. Buying used none of it goes to the authors anyway, so in that respect it's like downloading for free. Though yes downloads are not smudgey or dog eared, and I imagine that author is dead.


  5. Jane – I feel the same way about my house. The boyfriend keeps insisting that new houses have less work. To which I respond that they also have less character.

    Susan – here I thought that was going to end with an offer to give me one 🙂

    Frank – I would LOVE to have it if you can dig it out. You've got my email if you find it!

    B – Yep, this author is long dead, which is why buying used doesn't carry any guilt.


  6. I've learned over the last year or so that I definitely prefer a physical book to an e-copy when given a choice. And I also tend to buy used, but for cheapness' sake. Out of curiosity, where do you find most of your used books?


  7. Let it be known that The Frank did make a valia nt effort to locate his elusive copy of Phineas Finn among hundreds of boxes in cramped quaters, exclaiming AHA! every time a package marked “classics” was discovered. Alas, our friend Mr. Trollope evaded our prying eyes and dusty fingers. I may find him yet, but I fear it will not be this weekend…

    I did, however, finish your colleague's excellent novel Pretty Girl-13. I don't usually read creepy crime thillers, and to be fair Coley's book is much more than that, but I'm very glad I read it, indeed. What a fantastic character! For once, I would've been happy for a longer book for an even deeper exploration despite my lifelong default opinion for authors to cut, cut, cut.


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