On Buying the Whole Damned Store, or Why I Shouldn’t Go Into Bookstores Alone


In the recovery world there’s someone called a “sober coach”. Official titles vary but, in short, it’s someone you employ to keep you away from the hooch. I need a bookstore coach, someone who’ll spritz me with a spray bottle every time I go near a bookstore, like one would do to a cat about to scratch a new couch.

“Hey! Psst!! Don’t do that! [spritz spritz]”

Bookstores are dangerous. I want ev.ery.thing. Everything. I go back and forth. I pick up. I put down. Most of the time my frugality wins and my miserly ass leaves the store empty-handed. Success is browsing without buying. I failed big time this weekend at Penn Bookstore. I browsed. I bought.

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I usually have intense internal debates — “Should I buy it? Should I not buy it?” This weekend, however, I said fuck it.

“Get that book with the cool cover.”
“Get that book because of that blurb’s wow-factor.”
“Get that one I had back in college but sold so I could do laundry.”
“Buy anything that gives me a sense of ‘Ooooh! That sounds really cool. I had no idea I was interested in this topic!”

And then I spend more on books than I did on the damned hotel room in Philly. I went to Philadelphia to see the “Storming of the Bastille” at Eastern Stare Penitentiary, go to the Penn Museum, and enjoy 24 hours of kid-free free-time. I didn’t go to spend more on books than a hotel room. Seriously, I’m cheap as hell, but if I had more time and wasn’t there on a Sunday when some shops were closed… I’d have done some serious financial damage.

Did I have regrets at the time? No. Not a damned one. My first real me time in 6 years? I’m going on a book bender.

Regrets now? Yes.

I didn’t buy enough.

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