As part of my never-ending struggle to keep my apartment from getting overrun with clutter, I have lately taken a page from my blogmigo Ellen Wernecke and begun to "unbooken" my apartment. I have donated books to a thrift shop, given books away to friends, and brought some non-fiction books about New York City, as well as my style guides, to my office. But, every once in a while, I find cheap books - at a library sale, or a flea market, or one of those book tables on Manhattan street corners - and end up stocking up again.
Today, I went to the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, in SoHo, which is such a cool spot to hang out, and is frequented by so many writers and painfully beautiful SoHo types that it makes up for its comparatively poor food and coffee. I went armed with a $25-for-$12 Groupon, which Ellen did us all a solid by calling to our attention two weeks ago. Because I did not read the fine print beforehand, I did not realize that the entire coupon had to be used in a single visit. There were enough things that I really wanted that it wasn't worth coming back another time, because Housing Works, by its very nature, doesn't have a permanent "stock" as much as a rotating selection of books that New Yorkers happen to have donated recently, and, if I came back another time, the stuff I really wanted would likely be gone. Fortunately I was able to find enough overlooked treasures to make full use of my gift certificate. Housing Works is not the cheapest used bookstore around, but, including the price of the groupon, $14 bought my copies of two Superchunk CDs, Here's to Shutting Up and Here's Where The Strings Come In, Alice Munro's Open Secrets, Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, Kelly Link's Magic For Beginners, and Amy Bloom's Away. Not a bad haul, and all of the proceeds went to AIDS research and housing and feeding homeless people in New York City. Now I only need to find places to put this stuff.