Half Price Books

I went to the Half Price Books in Indy today. It was forty-five minutes of fresh air after a long, hard week of disappointment and worry in the Day Job. It’s been some years now since I’ve really been much of a reader, let alone the Devourer of Pages I once was, and the visit to the bookstore today reminded me sharply just how much I need it.

Some notes:

  • The comedy section is tiny compared with most other sections, and most of it was filled with fairly recent ephemera: Jon Stewart’s somethingorother, Tina Fey, Dave Barry, lots of other comedian fare from the last 10-15 years. Is comedy inherently ephemeral? Or is lasting comedy simply really hard to write well, and therefore very uncommon? I think back on the comic authors from not so long ago–Erma Bombeck, anyone? James Thurber? Ring Lardner?–and I wonder. But then, of course, Who’s on First?
  • There was a worn taped body outline on the floor in the mystery aisle. A couple of girls, I’ll guess thirteen-ish, studied it. One of them asked me, “Is that supposed to be a horse or something?” Well, in fairness, the head and shoulders of the corpsy outline were almost completely worn away. But while it may not have looked exactly like a chalk outline, ‘horse’ was pretty far away from the thing. So the eternal Patient, Explaining Dad in me started queueing up a chalk-outline-dead-body-mystery-section spiel…but then Calvin’s Dad in me grabbed the wheel: “Yep, it’s a horse. This is the Horse Stories section.” They nodded and moved to the next aisle. I don’t know when or how or even if that correction will occur, but I hope it’s a good one when it does. Horse Stories, indeed.
  • There’s a lot going on at the register counter; see picture below. Yes, those are pocket Jesuses, each with its own color and corresponding area of influence inscribed upon its pedestal. I’m a little stunned at this whole thing, and there are a lot of thoughts (and questions) bubbling up in my head about this, but I think I’ll save most of them for now. But note that along with the assorted pocket saviors, we have Bob Ross Happy Little Mints, Mr. Rogers Encouragemints, and Rosie the Riveter Empowermints. And jaw harps and kaleidoscopes.

I came away with JK Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy and David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, which I somehow haven’t read yet. My to-read list is now thickening up to appropriately unwieldy levels again, and that’s a good feeling too. Remember ye writers, thy first commandment is READ. Books are the oxygen for your mind. Without them, the death may be slower, but it’s no less complete.


Name o' Penfold. Just Penfold. A full-time husband, dad, programmer, and nerd, trying to add "writer" to the list.

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