Shopping shouldn’t be done alone–I’m a firm believer in this. This is why I’ll call Sibling-the-Elder from halfway across the country to discuss the merits of cream corduroy pants. But over the years I’ve begun to learn–it’s a bad idea to shop alone for groceries, clothes, yarn, and books. There’s no one to second guess you, remind you that you already have 2 pounds of butter in the freezer, and observe that in reality, it’s doubtful you’re ever going to wear, eat, read, or knit some of the stuff that looks SO appealing.

This is a particular problem for me when it comes to books. If there’s one thing I can justify to myself–it’s another half dozen books.

If I stopped purchasing now and/or checking things out from the library, I probably have enough reading material in the house to get me through a couple of years. This assumes I don’t re-read anything I’ve already read and skipped some of the textbooks. I’d probably have run out at least a month or three earlier had I made this estimate yesterday.

I went to the Friends of the Library Booksale today. Insert downfall here. It should have been my first clue to myself when I casually grabbed a large box from under a table–a box that had previously held lots of bananas. I wasn’t going for particularly heavy reading. Book sales for me are often a lot more about getting cheap escape literature. Certainly I can check this out said literature from my library–and don’t think I’m not waiting for the circulation staff to ask why I’m balancing Stephanie Laurens’ latest historical bodice ripper with a history on Savannah, Georgia and some MySQL books–but there’s an added bonus with these: I get to pass them on.

Romance novels, particularly, are the guilty pleasure of many women I know. We’re intelligent, well-read, educated, interesting women who have a lot of our own personal drama. Yet we like to sneak off into a world where women wear pretty dresses, men are amazingly handsome, and everything works out nicely in 175 pages. The habit of trading the books started, for me, in college–we had limited off campus transportation, less time, and to this day I don’t have a clue where a public library is near there. We also had limited funds and dorm room space, so buying wasn’t always an option– Amazon was just taking off and Ebay didn’t exist. So we shared. We kept shelves in our closets and bins under our beds and swapped.

And that transient ownership, before passing it on to the next girl, still stays with me. It wasn’t too long that I’d been in Chicago before discovering another reader of Regency-period romances. She’s a graduate student and doesn’t always have the time or funds to go scrounging. But I had a couple of piles to pass on to her, which then went to her mother, then her mother’s friend at church, etc. I’ve not found anyone here in LAX just yet and she’s still studying so for now the books are getting wrapped in brown paper or boxes and media mailed to Chicago. It’s a most convenient way for me to justify my shopping and really, considering I spent all of $17 on nearly 50 books– about four of which I might actually keep–I don’t think I’m ending up too badly on this deal.

The next sale is in May–do I have any volunteers to attend with me and possibly curtail how many I bring home?