Many of my friends know I enjoy shopping at Goodwill and other thrift stores around town. I donate plenty of things to them as well. Years ago, I had some qualms about shopping there—was I taking from the needy with my fun treasure hunts? I no longer feel that way—it’s like a great recycling center, you could buy a used hair dryer if that’s what you need, formal dresses with the tags still on, and once I found salad plates matching my casual dinnerware. That was a happy find! Aside from the folks who enjoy treasure hunting like I do, the stores supply jobs and products to many people.
Some of the best deals are on books. Prices vary store to store, but an adult paperback is about $2, half-price if its color sticker is this week’s discount color. I have bought books for various donation drives, teen books for daughter Sarah’s Middle School Classroom, books from favorite authors that haven’t appeared at the local library (Debbie Macomber!), and paperbacks that fare well on an airplane or by the pool. I have also purchased cookbooks and some how-to/non-fiction books, but the novels are fun to read and then pass along to a friend.
A few of the books I’ve come across and enjoyed:
Dorothea Benton Frank’s Full of Grace, some might call it a beach read, but I read it on an airplane, and it wasn’t all fluff. An Italian-American unmarried daughter follows the rest of her multi-generational family from New Jersey to Hilton Head, with a
secondary theme of Alzheimer’s, something many of us walk with on a daily basis. My take away: Italian Family Dinners are like Southern Family Dinners, and families are complicated but full of love, no matter their accents or size.
Lynne Hinton’s Hope Springs, sequel to Friendship Cake. The problem with thrift shopping for books is that sometimes you “get the cart before the horse,” as my grandmother Irene used to say, but in this book, it was not a problem. This is a well-written and low-key Christian novel, with characters I wouldn’t mind having as friends: the garden club and church members are all ages and ethnicities, and they have problems like people I know.
Meg Cabot’s The Bride Wore Size 12, last of the 5-book Heather Wells Mysteries series. Although I haven’t read The Princess Diaries series, one daughter read some of them and of course, we enjoyed the movies. This book is aimed at readers ages 20-30ish, but I enjoyed it enough that I may look for the others in this mystery series, maybe at the library, another of my favorite places.
Ann Tyler: For years, her books have been recommended and several have been made into movies. I found a few titles at my favorite GW, The Clock Winder, about a capable girl who becomes part of a wealthy family, The Amateur Marriage, a name which made me pause—part of the beauty of marriage is you learn how by doing it. I found Breathing Lessons recently, which is supposed to be one of her best novels. Ann Tyler’s fully-developed characters are very intriguing—no wonder her books are so popular.
Hazel Gaynor: I found a well-worn copy of A Memory of Violets, a mysterious book about London’s Flower Sellers and the charity that helped them. I hadn’t read historical novels in years, but I used to love them—more books by this author to look for and read!
Danielle Steel: Another great author I might not have read if I had not come across used books. Ransom is a suspense novel I found on a bookshelf—it looks like my father-in-law read and enjoyed it when it came out in March ’04. I found myself on the tip of my toes (figuratively!) as I read this on the treadmill, and imagining a possible sequel as I finished. Silent Honor was a GW find—I was attracted by its topical similarity, to Farewell to Manzanar, which I read repeatedly as a kid, although this young college girl was taken to Tanforan, then Tule Lake. A good historical novel often makes me want to know more about what actually happened!
I wonder what I’ll find next time I go thrifting, maybe a great Mary Higgins Clark mystery. That great lady is 90 years old, but still writing two books a year with her writing partner, Alafair Burke. I better make some room on my bookshelves.
Don’t forget: Goodwill and other thrift stores are a great way to recycle good stuff
you no longer need. I like to drop items off at Goodwill and other local charity shops,
but many organizations will pick up bagged and marked goods.