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An Unexpected Book Binge

Because I live in a town without a dedicated bookstore, I can never buy just one book when I get the chance to go book shopping. I always bulk up my online orders to get free shipping, and I can’t walk out of bookstore (new or used) without bringing a pile of books home with me. And this weekend was a perfect storm of book magic: an online order arrived at home just before I took a trip to the Twin Cities that involved a wonderful book binge at a new-to-me Barnes & Noble with a fabulous used books section.

My books in/books out goal took a hit, but it was well worth it to bring these beauties home with me (apologies for no pictures, the lighting in my office is terrible!).

The book that started the binge was In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood. I blame Rebecca (The Book Lady) for this one, after she piqued my interest in this book again after posting a bunch of great quotes on the Bookrageous Tumblr.

Then, to bump up my online order, I added two more books I’ve been waiting to read, Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein and Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye (based on a recommendation from Fizzy Jill). I can’t quite bring myself to start Safe from the Sea yet, since it’s freezing here in Minnesota, but I’m imagining settling in with that one on a cold winter weekend.

Although I don’t really need an excuse to head to a bookstore, my trip to Barnes & Noble was, ostensibly, to purchase Sally Bedell Smith’s Elizabeth the Queen, a biography of Queen Elizabeth II. I saw a special about Queen Elizabeth after Downton Abbey on Sunday, and decided I wanted to learn more about her (like I need another epic biography to add to my stacks — Team of Rivals, I’m looking at you!).

It had been awhile since I went to this particular Barnes & Noble, so I got a little lost wandering around trying to find the biography section. I just happened (wink!) to find my way to the used books section — one of the best used book collections I’ve come across at a chain store in quite some time. I found a bunch of great picks (far more than I intended to come home with):

  • Reefer Madness by Eric Schlosser, a book that looks at three major black markets in the United States: prn, pot and illegal immigrants
  • The Man Who Couldn’t Eat by Jon Reiner, a memoir about a food writers  battle with Chron’s Disease
  • Paper Trails by Pete Dexter, a collection of newspaper essays and columns about “confusion, mindless violence, and forbidden desires — a surprising number of which are not about marriage”
  • Alibis by Andre Acima, a collection of essays on time, place, and identity

I was especially excited to find Paper Trails and Alibis on the stacks because they both recently came out in paperback and I was just getting ready to order them myself anyway. Score!

Unfortunately, I have too many books in progress right now to get into any of these right away. I’m currently in the middle of Special Topics in Calamity Physics, a collection of essays by Andrew O’Hagen, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Friendfluence by Carlin Flora and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I really need to focus just a little bit so I can get these done!

I’m not sure how busy the blog will be this week, since I was traveling all weekend and missed my traditional blogging time, but I hope I’ll have a review up tomorrow or Friday. Yay, books!

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  • Jeanne January 16, 2013, 7:33 am

    My husband and I have an old joke about not being able to walk past a bookstore without getting sucked in, but since we had children the bookstore is usually the destination when we go out to a place with stores.

    • Kim January 16, 2013, 8:55 pm

      My mom took us to bookstores a lot when we were kids. Now that I don’t have one easily accessible (at least not a dedicated bookstore), I almost always make a point to visit one when I travel.

  • bermudaonion(Kathy) January 16, 2013, 7:53 am

    I love unexpected book binges! It looks like you found some real treasures!

    • Kim January 16, 2013, 8:56 pm

      I was so impressed with the used book section at this B&N. It was filled with great stuff, and very well organized.

  • Care January 16, 2013, 8:59 am

    I’m actually thinking of doing a book binge myself – I must study and plot my book club choices and want to have the physical books with me to present. You do sound giddy with triumph – have fun reading!

    • Kim January 16, 2013, 8:56 pm

      I miss being in a book club, if only because it gave me an excuse to buy more books 🙂

  • Charlie January 16, 2013, 2:15 pm

    It happens and it’s fun (even if everyone else thinks we’re crazy). You’ve an interesting list of books, and regarding the ones you’ve got lined up to read I like how HP didn’t require an author like the others. Far too ingrained in our culture now!

    • Kim January 16, 2013, 8:57 pm

      Ha! I know! Anyone who is anyone will know that 🙂

  • Andi @ Estella's Revenge January 16, 2013, 4:07 pm

    You said Reefer Madness!!! Sorry, I’m 12. I haven’t seen this one anywhere, but it sounds oddly wishlist-worthy.

    • Kim January 16, 2013, 8:57 pm

      I had never hear of it either, but the title grabbed my attention, and then when I read that it was written by the same guy who wrote Fast Food Nation, I was sold.

  • Diane@BibliophilebytheSea January 16, 2013, 7:37 pm

    LOL – “seize the moment” – good 4 you!

    • Kim January 16, 2013, 8:57 pm

      Ha, thanks!

  • Joy Weese Moll January 16, 2013, 8:37 pm

    That’s a lot of good books! Almost makes you wish to get snowed in!

    • Kim January 16, 2013, 8:58 pm

      Me too! Sort of, anyway. I only live about a mile from work, so the “I can’t make it in because of snow” excuse doesn’t really fly 🙂

  • Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm January 17, 2013, 3:09 pm


    I listened to Elizabeth the Queen on audio… it took weeks to finish, because it was like 32 hours long, or something ridiculous like that. But I really enjoyed it. I was most surprised by how much horse talk there was. I mean, somehow I didn’t expect a short dissertation on race-horse breeding and insemination in a book about the Queen, but there it was.

    (Makes sense though, given how much riding Elizabeth has always done. So I guess I should’ve seen it coming.)

    • Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm January 17, 2013, 3:12 pm

      Oh man, two ‘likes’ in one sentence. I’ve apparently been hanging out with too many teenagers lately. 😀

    • Kim January 20, 2013, 9:36 am

      That is good to know! I didn’t know she was into horses, which is I guess not surprising since I don’t know anything about the Queen. But I do actually love books that have strange digressions like that, so maybe it’ll be a good thing 🙂

  • Laura January 17, 2013, 4:30 pm

    We just finally got a new book store where I live after our Barnes and Noble closed a couple of years ago. I tend to binge on books as well. I read Cinderella Ate My Daughter last year and it was a lot of fun.

    • Kim January 20, 2013, 9:36 am

      Good to know! I was really interested in Disney and childhood and princesses a year or so ago when the book came out, but never got a chance to read it then. I’m hoping to still be interested now 🙂

  • Steph January 17, 2013, 7:45 pm

    It sounds like an eclectic collection of interesting books. I am kind of fascinated by Reefer Madness. Alibis sounds quite intriguing too.

    • Kim January 20, 2013, 9:37 am

      I really curious about that one too. A friend asked to borrow it, so I’ll have to get a mini review from him once he finished!

  • Belle Wong January 17, 2013, 8:47 pm

    I love when that happens – finding a book on sale or used that’s on my to-buy list! It’s such serendipity. I just discovered a huge used book store near me, and now you’ve got me itching to go on a book binge!

    • Kim January 20, 2013, 9:38 am

      I LOVE used bookstores. It’s just so fun to go in and browse so many books that aren’t on my radar. And this one, although a small section of the B&N was very well-organized. I found books exactly where I expected them to be, which is not always the case!

  • Citizen Reader January 17, 2013, 9:25 pm

    I too REALLY enjoyed the SBS book on the Queen, although it was quite tame (of course). And yes, there IS a lot of horse talk in it, but she manages to make it quite interesting.

    I enjoyed the Orenstein book too, although it will make you hope that if you have kids, they’re boys. (http://www.citizenreader.com/citizen/2011/05/peggy_orenstein_cinderella.html)

    Glad you got to indulge in a book binge!

    • Kim January 20, 2013, 9:39 am

      Yeah, I wasn’t expecting anything scandalous. But I have to imagine she’s had a pretty interesting life regardless. And thanks for the link to your review — I can’t wait to read that one!

  • Rebecca January 18, 2013, 6:20 pm

    I have to avoid bookstores, too, because I can never buy just one. Even when I had a gift card from my sister to buy just one book, I ended up getting the one for it plus another book. I can’t help myself!

    • Kim January 20, 2013, 9:39 am

      Me too, me too. I always leave with a couple, even if I have a short list. It’s just too tempting to wander and then buy things!

  • Lisa Guidarini January 19, 2013, 10:20 am

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who can’t buy just one book at a time. How lonely it would be! I bought the new George Sanders book yesterday, Tracy Kidder’s ‘Good Prose’ and a new book of essays by Julian Barnes. No loneliness there!

    • Kim January 20, 2013, 9:40 am

      I read Good Prose a little bit ago and I’m hoping to have a review up this week. I liked it a whole lot!

      • Care January 20, 2013, 8:25 pm

        I’m so out of it. Kidder has another book out?! oy

  • Lisa Guidarini January 19, 2013, 10:20 am

    Sorry, that’s “Saunders,” not “Sanders”…

  • Jenny January 19, 2013, 4:42 pm

    Oh, I’m curious about Cinderella Ate My Daughter, I’ll be curious what you think about that one. I read Peggy Orenstein’s memoir about trying to have her daughter, and it made me think so ill of her. She just comes off like a genuinely terrible person. Ordinarily I’d be fascinated by this book except that I think Peggy Orenstein is awful.

    • Kim January 20, 2013, 9:41 am

      I had no idea she’d written other books before this one. I guess I just never heard of them? I’m glad to be going into this one with many ideas about her or parenting 🙂

  • Susan January 20, 2013, 6:07 pm

    Gosh, I don’t feel so bad now! I’ve already bought one new book since Christmas, and several second-hand books. I can’t resist bookstores either, whether I know them or they are new to me. They are all irresistible! Enjoy your new books, Kim.

    • Kim February 3, 2013, 8:23 am

      You’re doing just fine! It’s actually probably good I don’t have much of a bookstore nearby, although maybe if I could get books regularly I wouldn’t binge so much 🙂

  • Nikki Steele January 21, 2013, 9:10 pm

    I completely forgot about Cinderella Ate My Daughter even though it was on my list for the longest time! Thanks for the reminder.

    Really, your book binge sounds amazing. Think of all the other things that would have been much worse to spend your money on (in no particular order):

    – Snuggies
    – VHS tapes
    – Justin Bieber records

    It all works out in the end, right?

    • Kim February 3, 2013, 8:23 am

      Lol! So true, although life would be better with a snuggie 🙂

  • Citizen Reader January 21, 2013, 9:44 pm

    Huh. I didn’t mind Orenstein’s earlier book, Waiting for Daisy. Jenny, if I might be so bold, can I ask what you didn’t like about it/her?

  • Jen January 23, 2013, 1:52 pm

    The Man Who Couldn’t Eat was one of my favorite books when I read it in Nov. 2011! I even emailed the author after I was finished reading it.

    • Kim February 3, 2013, 8:24 am

      Good news! I’ve heard lots of good things about that one, which I why I picked it up.

  • Liz January 23, 2013, 2:06 pm

    Cinderelle Ate my Daughter was a good read that provoked a lot of questions for me…. I don’t know anything else about the author, so perhaps that helped not to colour the whole experience as it did for others.
    If you are interested in gender studies et al., Cinderella Ate my Daughter is a good read.

    • Kim February 3, 2013, 8:24 am

      Thanks for the recommendation! I actually had two friends who recently had baby girls, and I’m excited to read the book and perhaps recommend it to them.

  • Liz January 23, 2013, 2:06 pm



  • Katie @ Doing Dewey February 1, 2013, 8:50 pm

    Wow, what a lot of books you’re reading! I can occasionally manage one fiction and one non-fiction, but more than that and my enjoyment drops exponentially.

    • Kim February 3, 2013, 8:25 am

      I can’t do too many books at once either. It seems like three is my limit, although that’s still pushing it.