Last week I went to my local Salvation Army store on 50% off day. I came home feeling proud of the bargains I'd found and was eager to show off this lovely stack of books which I had purchased for a total of $4.13. My boyfriend and I both adore books so he darted over to look at the titles as soon as I took them out of the bag. He pointed to the one on the bottom (Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert) and said "Oh you found a copy? Good. But I thought you already had it." I avoided his eyes as I sheepishly admitted that I did in fact buy a copy of the same book two months ago at Goodwill. "But" I explained "That was a paperback copy and this is a hardback. Plus this one was only 75 cents, and this way I can lend out a copy and I'll still have one." I'm not sure it made sense but he'd never ask me to justify buying a book that called out to me.
Committed is one of those books that felt as if it was written just for me at this time in my life. It's part memoir in regard to the author's marriages and part history of marriage and common customs. I borrowed an audio copy from the library last fall and listened to it while I drove. There were times I wanted to talk to Elizabeth Gilbert as she read. It felt like there was a friend in the car with me, telling me her story. She wrote about experiences and feelings she's had that are similar to my own. I'm glad I experienced the book in her own voice but there were many times I wished I could highlight a specific section and absorb the words from the page. I searched for a used copy for months until I finally found one.
This isn't the first book I've felt so strongly about. In fact, there's a David Sedaris paperback in the above pile that I already own on audio but it was 37 cents! I snatched it up immediately! I like being able to give or lend someone a copy of a book I think they would enjoy. After I read Lucky by Alice Sebold, I bought every used copy I came across and gave it to a woman in my life. If someone makes the effort to recommend a book to me, I usually put it on my list and read it as soon as I can get a copy. Even if I don't like it I appreciate the gesture, that someone thought of me.
When I go to yard sales I'll get on my knees next to a box of books to dig through. A person's book collection can say a lot about them. Last summer I came across a couple who, among the usual yard sale wares, were getting rid of a box full of books about shapeshifting and witchcraft. I've seen people selling their books on infertility, troubled marriages, death in the family or any number of illnesses and I think that's such a personal thing to sit out in your yard for a stranger to root through. But for the person who comes across those books and needs them, what a great find!