serendipitous bookstore bargain bin discovery

I like spending hours in bookstores, surrounded by the aroma of aged paper and ink, hovering around, reading different books, and I think that’s in general a pretty cool thing. However, there’s a weakness I have which I dislike about myself: my penchant for scouring through the bargain bin of a book store. Recently, I picked up a $1 book there, and there’s no chance in hell that I would have bought it any other way than serendipitously stumbling over it on a little bookstore bargain bin excavation. I would have never picked this book on Amazon because it doesn’t look or sounds like anything I’d want to read. And yet, it’s now my latest unsuspected page-turner

As far as I can tell, it’s a book by a man who wanted to write a book about D.H. Lawrence, but probably never did—I can’t tell yet, I’m early in the book. But what I already know is that this man is great with language, and based on what I’ve found on the first 15 pages, it’s the best book about writer’s block I’ve ever read, even though he hasn’t mentioned the term writer’s block anywhere yet, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he won’t do so anywhere between page 16 to 237 (which happens to be the last page of the book) either.

I loved this little section about heat:

The heat was tremendous and nowhere in Rome was hotter than Laura’s apartment. She had been so pleased to get back into her own place that she had forgotten how hot it would be. Heat is like that. In the course of winter unbrearable heat cools in memory and becomes attractive, desirable. Now it was terribly hot. Even the light was hot. We tried to keep the light at bay, but it drilled through the keyhole, squeezed under the door, levered open the smallest of cracks in the shutters. My mind was made up, I was ready to work — but it was too hot to work. It was so hot we spent our waking hours dozing and our sleeping hours lying awake, trying to sleep. We were in a kind of trance.

Geoff Dyer, Out of Sheer Rage

As someone who grew up in a (mostly) too cold country (Germany), but has been living for 10+ years in a (mostly) too hot country (Thailand), this might have been the best description of heat I’ve ever read.

What’s more, this book made me love myself a little more, because it gives me so much joy on every page, and the fact that it was a serendipitous bookstore bargain bin discovery makes me wonder: Maybe even in this weakness of mine there is a beauty and something to be cherished. Because I would never have discovered this little gem if it wasn’t for the $1 price tag, where it stood out amongst 30+ copies of “Fire and Fury”, boring cookbooks, cheesy romance novels and books that, as far as I can tell, were written about Kpop stars.

Apparently, this fate of ending up in the bargain bin is not so uncommon for Geoff Dyer’s books, as he mentioned in a recent interview:

All of these different books actually have something in common; they’re all by the same person. So, it was a very different and unique way of proceeding. Typically, my books were always popping up in different parts of the bookstore. Although, ultimately, they would all end up in the same section: the remainder section, because they were all failures commercially.

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