Yesterday I took my son to some used bookstores in the area for some Black Friday book shopping. At our first stop I found the book I'm going to give by father-in-law for Jólabókaflóðið (yes, it's happening!) and at our second I picked out four books for myself, two of which were part of my never-ending quest to acquire a pristine set of Robert Caro's LBJ biography.
I could have purchased more books, but I didn't. At one point at the book store I even had a stack of five additional books that were not only cheap but were purchasable for an additional 20% off. Yet I ended up putting them back on their respective shelves, for the simple reason that I have no space for them. This is increasingly the primary constraint in my book-buying activities, as my shelves already packed end-to-end with titles. In one respect, I value the limitation, as it highlights that I need to make space by reading more of them. Yet it can be frustrating to see an enticing title that I would like to get, only to realize that the odds of getting to it anytime soon are slim.
I mention all of this as context for my upcoming dilemma, which is my local independent bookseller's annual New Year's Day sale. Every year on that day they open their doors at noon and offer buyers 25% everything in their store. As most of my brick-and-mortar discounts are for used bookstores, this is a rare opportunity to buy new, buy cheap, and buy local – the purchasing trifecta when it comes to book buying for me.
The only problem is, what to buy?
Currently the store has two books on their shelves which look particularly interesting. The first is the second volume of Stephen Kotkin's biography of Joseph Stalin, which I will need to get at some point. The other one (and one I may purchase if someone snatches up the Stalin biography before I do) is Yuri Slezkine's new book about the residents of a government apartment complex in Moscow during the Stalin era, which is getting rave reviews and is appearing on more than a few best-of-the-year lists that are already coming out. The problem is, can I justify owning a book that is less of a necessary purchase and which may sit unread for a few years before being sold? Fortunately I still have a few weeks to work out an answer, but it is something I think about as more of an encapsulation of my book-buying issues than it is something that I won't have to worry about again.