Tuesday, June 19, 2012

$1 For Some Change

One dollar doesn't buy a lot of things - a spicy McChicken from McD's, a picture frame from the dollar store, a soda maybe. So when I was told I could purchase 20 books for one dollar I was: first, speechless; then excited. Where did this incredible purchase take place? Well, there is a local bookstore about 10 minutes from where I work that sells books for super cheap. They also trade books so their inventory changes on any given day. After coming across it by luck while searching the web, I decided to take a trip that day during my lunch break. After passing it twice (places like this are always hard to find, literally), I found my way to a parking spot and headed in to the shop.

Let me give you a little history. It's important for effect. I found a gem otherwise known as thriftbooks.com, where the first book in your order is $3.95 and each additional book is discounted by .50 cents. I had ordered 5 books a few weeks prior and thought this was my new way of expanding my reading collection. I mean, three bucks a book? You can't get much better than that. Oh, and free shipping.

One of the reviews I read about the bookstore said the place is filled floor to ceiling with books. I was thinking, "hypochondriac", but when I opened the door I let out an "oh.my.gosh." The place is filled floor to ceiling with books. There is no method to the madness except to fit as many books inside a 500 sq. ft. space as possible. I didn't know where to look first or which makeshift aisle I should go down first. I only knew of one thing to do. I went up to the counter and told the cashier, "This is my first time here." That was all. Followed by a stare while I waited for her response. "Oh, good!" she says. Then she takes me around the store, and by "take around the store" I mean we stand in one spot and rotate our bodies while she points, because there's not really an "around" way to maneuver through this place. And that's when it happened. My life changed.

"And these books here are one dollar each," she tells me, while pointing to a huge table covered with books that are stacked 10 high, at least. "You can either buy one or twenty." I blinked. I think I breathed but I'm not certain. "Wait, these are a dollar but I can get twenty?" She tells me yes and that sometimes they have so many books that they have to do that. "Twenty? Any twenty?" She tells me yes again.

This is where it gets interesting. See, I was on the tail end of my lunch break so I had about 10 minutes before I needed to head back to work. I thought about coming back after work but......I was ready to spend some money. I start going through the books, not really seeing anything appealing, and then I hit the jackpot. There was an area on the table that had book on top of book, all of which I recognized. I had been reading Kite Runner and was interested in the author's other book, A Thousand Splendid Suns. It was there. Authors I had heard about - like Cathy Lamb and Mary Alice Monroe, - they were all there. I acquired 14 books which ranged from my being semi-familiar with them all the way up to they were actually on my reading list. The remaining six was potluck - if I liked the title or the cover, it was added to my stack. After giving $1.08 to the cashier, she sent me home with a bag (which later busted from the weight) of 20 books. Twenty.

Later that evening, as I arranged my new treasures on my bookshelf, I felt a sense of simple, authentic joy. There's just something about books that give me hope. There have been many times throughout my life, times very recently, when I felt so low, helpless, wondering "what am I even here for?" When I see a book I have yet to read, it gives me a reason to look forward, a reason to wonder what could be next in my life.  When I see a book that I have read, I think back on what I learned about the characters and about myself.  I enjoy, I mean really enjoy, reading -- I need to remind myself of this joy during the dry seasons.  God sends us hope in many forms, nuggets of hope, if you will - He created us to love certain things, He gave us talents and abilities in certain areas.  He made me a book lover!  He gives me inspiration and perspective and unconditional love through reading and writing.  When I am feeling low, I don't have the energy or desire to do much of anything.  But I shouldn't deny the things I enjoy because it's denying God of the love He wants to show me.  I can at least open a book.  I can scribble my fears and dreams in the form of stick figures and random adjectives on a notepad.  I can do something.

There's always another story to be told, always another reason to rise in the morning.  And in this case, I have twenty.

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