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Is It Gift Card-Worthy?

Last night I spent a little time at Barnes and Noble picking out two new books. I’ve said before on this blog that I rarely buy books, and even more rarely pay full-price for them. I usually only shop for paperbacks once a year, right before our annual trip to the beach (which, sadly, I will not be taking this year, as our baby boy is due smack in the middle of our usual beach week). Even then, I buy most of my paperbacks at the Bookworm, my favorite used bookstore and site of The Book Miracle. In the past year, the only new books I’ve bought have been on my Kindle, and those are significantly cheaper than their three-dimensional versions.  As I’ve also mentioned before, my reasons for not buying physical books are 1. the cost of my reading addiction; 2. my love of the library; and 3. shelf space.

However, since my friends and my students know that I love to read, I often receive Barnes and Noble gift cards. Before last night, I was in possession of six of them, in varying amounts. (It was amusing handing one after another to the cashier to fulfill my total. And I still have three left.) As I’ve been itching for new reading material, it seemed like a good opportunity to spend a few of them. But shopping in Barnes and Noble proved to be a difficult experience. Why? I picked up book after book, and though a lot of them looked interesting, I just couldn’t decide if they were gift card-worthy. If it had been a library, I would have walked out with at least twenty books that I thought were worth a try. But “worth a try” isn’t good enough for me to spend money (or gift cards) on. I had to be pretty damn sure that I was going to like them enough to want them taking up my shelf space or lend them to my friends. And that’s hard to evaluate based on a quick perusal of cover, synopsis and first page.

So I went with two books I’d heard of before last night: a novel my friend had looked at and emailed me about a few days ago, and a nonfiction social-study type book (one of my favorite genres) that I’d noticed several times in the last few months. I’m happy with my purchases, especially as I’ve already started the novel and am enjoying it. It’s even by an author I’ve never read before, which is a nice bonus.

As a side note, besides reading the novel, I also watched some classic movies today (after the stressful few weeks at school, I was due for a relaxing afternoon). I was riveted by an old favorite, 12 Angry Men, based on the play by Reginald Rose and released in 1957. The writing in that movie/play is so damn good. The rise and fall of the dialogue, the way the juror’s opinions and passions wax and wane, the way all the pieces of evidence come together in a way that feels completely organic, the fact that no names are used inside the jury room, even the fact that only a few minutes of the movie are spent outside the room- it’s all pure genius. There’s nothing like a well-written movie. (It’s also well-directed and well-acted, but it’s the writing that really stands out to me.)

I can’t think of a clever line to bring this whole post together, so I’ll just say goodnight to you all!

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