TBR pile o’ Shorts: Part One – The Used

When I decided to do a #YearOfReadingShorts I noted that I have a huge backlog of short stories to read. There are a number of different sources for that lofty TBR pile. Today I’ll talk about the danger of the UsedBook (genus libristritisinsumptuosus).

I love used book stores. Real used book stores. You know what I’m talking about. Places that smell either dusty or musty, depending on which section you’re in. Where you can’t walk down an aisle without toppling a tower of old paperbacks, at least one of which you have always wanted to read. Where the marked prices are merely guidelines and the actual price is set by the shopkeeper when you set your pile down on the counter.

There are lots of places like this here in Toronto (I’m looking at you Dencan Books), but I don’t get out to them as often as I might like. Trips like that usually involve either transit or parking, not to mention figuring a way to keep one or two of the kids engaged while I search the stacks. As a result, I am more likely to just drop in at places as I come across them. Yesterday’s Books in Huntsville is right on the route I take when I leave the cottage and head into town. Decent selection of speculative and CanLit fiction in an old house on Main Street.

Another option is the pop-up — a fleeting opportunity where you need to be in the right place at the right time. My last big score took place at one of these.

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Every year, Islington United Church has a bazaar and sale and they have an entire room dedicated to books (and, to a lesser extent, other media). Coming off of the acquisition of my century-old copies of LEAVES OF GRASS and THE WORKS OF E.A. POE, I decided to head over and see if I could obtain similar results in the basement of the local church.


Well, I didn’t find what I was looking for — classic books with character and just the right patina — but I did manage to grab up a stack of interesting tomes. Couple of “best of” national anthologies, the kind that cost $100 or more new. An odd volume of stories relating to the literary scene of the past 125 years in Greenwich Village. Selected Letters from Jack Kerouac. 50 year old copy of HEART OF DARKNESS, which I am ashamed to admit I had never read. Even some essays by DFW and collections from Chuck Palahniuk and Joyce Carol Oates. Lots of literary goodness to be found, hopefully on the cheap.

As at Dencan, I did not know what the price of my trove would be until I reached the checkout. Sure there was a sign on the wall, but that would involve math and I try not to do that outside of #Dayjob and kids’ homework. The lovely young lady at the cash told me that it would be six dollars and twenty-five cents for my stack of books and a few DVDs my daughter had pillaged.

I rounded the total up to ten bucks and lugged my prizes down the street to bookshelves that cannot hold them. They sit in my basement in a stack between bookshelves like we were at Dencan.

Next week … TBR o’ Shorts: Part Two – ???

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