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Book Binge: Half Price Books Clearance Sale

On Sunday morning, my sister Jenny and I were getting ready to go out and grab breakfast when she noticed an announcement for Half Price Books’ yearly clearance sale — all books $3 or under. We’re both big fans of Half Price Books (a buy and sell used books chain), so adjusting our plans to go to a sale big enough to be held in the Grandstand at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds was a no-brainer.

After a couple of wrong turns, we arrived at the sale at about 11 a.m. on Sunday, the second day of the event. We weren’t sure what to expect; would all of the good books be gone? Would it be insanely busy? As we walked in we saw some customers coming out of the building with shopping carts full of books, which we laughed at and confidently said we wouldn’t grab that many.

How wrong we were.


It’s hard to give a sense of how big the sale actually was. Even this picture I took of Jenny browsing only captures about a third of the space. It was insane. The books were separated out generally into nonfiction, fiction, young adult and children’s sections, but within those categories it was pretty disorganized (which was definitely expected given how many books there were to choose from). Jenny and I bought a tote bag and just started wandering, pulling books from the tables that we were interested in or thought the other one would like.

After getting through about three rows of tables, we discovered that our tote bag was entirely full. Jenny headed back up to the front and bought another tote bag, which we filled up in no time at all. In the end, we left with 36 books for about $36… amazing! Here’s the photo we took when we got home (my books are on the left, Jenny’s are on the right):


Since the titles are small, here’s what’s on my pile:

  • Working by Studs Terkle
  • Best American Essays 2010, edited by Christopher Hitchens
  • The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman
  • The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
  • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
  • Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman
  • Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  • My Antonia by Willa Cather
  • The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud
  • When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson
  • The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Most of Jenny’s titles are chick lit or historical fiction, but if you have questions about what any of them are leave them in the comments and I’ll try to figure it out.

One of my favorite things about clearance book sales is checking out which books are most common. I saw a strangely high number of copies of The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb and, to no surprise, many copies of the Twilight series and Nicholas Sparks’ novels. There were also a lot of copies of The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman (I found a nice copy of that one).

Now that I’ve added 15 more books to my towering TBR shelves, I need to go on a book buying diet for the rest of the year… the books are starting to take over my house!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sandy October 9, 2013, 5:33 am

    I’ve read Lahiri’s short stories but haven’t read The Namesake yet…I would have grabbed that one too! Good score on the Atkinson as well. I’m curious why there were so many Lambs. That is an awesome book!

    • Kim October 9, 2013, 10:19 am

      Kate Atkinson and Jhumpa Lahiri are two of the authors on my bucket list. I’ve been slowly collecting books by authors I want to read so I have them ready when I decide to jump in.

  • Julie Merilatt October 9, 2013, 6:51 am

    How fun, I love HPB! I would be in serious trouble if I went. I loved The Namesake.

  • Krystyn October 9, 2013, 6:59 am

    Oh looks like I have the same reading interests as your friend Jenny. I enjoyed “Falling Together” by de los Santos.

    • Kim October 9, 2013, 10:20 am

      Jenny loves chick lit and historical fiction, so almost all of her books were in those genres. It does make it easy to figure out what books she might like — the covers are almost always a giveaway!

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) October 9, 2013, 7:03 am

    It looks like you found some treasures!!

  • Word Lily October 9, 2013, 8:34 am

    Ooh, you found some good ones!

  • Alex (Sleepless Reader) October 9, 2013, 9:59 am

    My bookclub read The World Is Flat and we all HATED it. I don’t remember any occasion where we were all in agreement (ok, maybe we all LOVED Gone with the Wind).

    • Kim October 9, 2013, 10:23 am

      That is good to know! It’s one of those nonfiction books I feel like I “should” read to be in the know (kind of like Fast Food Nation and Bowling Alone), but I’m not sure if it’ll really be for me. But for $1? I’ll give it some space on my shelves for awhile.

  • Charlie October 9, 2013, 11:54 am

    For the number of tables and books, your stacks are pretty modest, and surely deserves a ‘well done’! In agreement with the others here that you’ve some good titles.

  • Amy October 9, 2013, 12:10 pm

    What a great stack of books! Those half price book sales are so great. Love the Atkinson and Lahiris books you got. I’ve read a couple by Atkinson and one by Lahiri but want to read so much more. I read and loved The Emperor’s children and want to read Messud’s new one. I’m “envious” you picked up Rules of Civility. I need to get that book! I adore Willa Cather, too. Enjoy your new books and Happy Reading!

    • Kim October 10, 2013, 7:53 pm

      I’m not sure about Claire Messud — after some recent interviews, I’m a little skeptical of her books. But I think they’re worth a try anyway 🙂

  • Meg October 9, 2013, 3:21 pm

    Yeahhhh, I’d have quite the time trying to control myself in a situation like that! I just got done whittling down my own piles as I prepare to move my books (I’ve moved about half! Oh, the heavy, physical anguish!), but I’m always on the lookout for my new favorite read.

    Also, The Namesake is my favorite book of all time — enjoy! I still think about it, wondering about the characters. The best.

    • Kim October 10, 2013, 7:52 pm

      I’ve had to do some book paring just to make room for these beauties, but it will be worth it when I finally get to read them 🙂

  • Jenny @ Reading the End October 9, 2013, 6:17 pm

    I AM SO JEALOUS. I am the most jealous of all time. I love half-priced book sales, with everything in cardboard boxes and you come home with a great big stack of books and you get to add them to your LibraryThing catalogue and cover them with contact paper and it is the best. (Parts of that may just be me.)

    • Kim October 10, 2013, 7:51 pm

      Except for the contact paper, yes, that is exactly me 🙂

  • Susan October 9, 2013, 11:21 pm

    What a lovely haul!! The Kate Atkinson is one I have to read (I’ve read the others in the series), and I have My Antonia and the Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire on my pile to be read, also. You got some very good books there. I like how you and your sister were able to come out with such a different variety of books also. Enjoy them!!!

    • Kim October 10, 2013, 7:51 pm

      I didn’t realize that particular Atkinson was in the middle of the series. I think it sounds like it will stand alone, but we’ll see. I may try for the first ones from the library first.

  • Allison @ The Book Wheel October 10, 2013, 12:04 am

    I loved, loved, loved Rules of Civility and want everyone to read it so I can’t wait for you to get around to it! Great haul 🙂

    • Kim October 10, 2013, 7:50 pm

      That’s one I already read (last summer, I think?), but didn’t have a copy of for myself. It was fun to find one to add to my shelves!

  • Jeanne October 10, 2013, 7:45 am

    I love The Family Fang, in particular!

  • Jennifer October 11, 2013, 8:22 am

    Ha ha ha, how cute that you thought you wouldn’t buy many books 😉

    What a fantastic stack!! I’m jealous 😀

    • Kim October 16, 2013, 7:55 pm

      Ha! It was a pretty foolish notion 🙂

  • Rebecca @ Love at First Book October 12, 2013, 8:11 pm

    That’s awesome! Book sales are the BEST!!!!

  • Ky October 12, 2013, 8:31 pm

    Why are piles of books so pleasing? My Antonia is lovely…

  • susan October 13, 2013, 5:50 pm

    Wow that’s a lot of books! And a lot of good choices: Tartt, Lahiri, Robinson and Cather. Quite a fantastic line-up! You go.


  • Maphead October 13, 2013, 9:34 pm

    Well done!
    Love to get my hands on Best American Essays 2010 since I just finished Hitchens’ Mortality.
    I’ve owned an old paperback copy of Working for years and after seeing that you’ve purchased a copy maybe finally I’ll read it.
    I read World is Flat a few years back and I remember liking it. Wondering if I read it again would I feel the same way. Likewise with Bookseller of Kabul.
    Looks like a great haul of books. Happy Reading!!!

    • Kim October 16, 2013, 8:05 pm

      My boss actually loaned me her copy of Working, but I haven’t started it yet! I want to read it though, it sounds just up my alley.