Saturday, December 6, 2008

84, Charing Cross Road

I found a GREAT book in the school library, and read it in one sitting. It reminded me of the process I go though when buying used books online.

• The book I really want is out of print.
• I order online from a seemingly reputable seller.
• The book does not come as soon as expected and I email to find out what’s going on.
• The seller emails to say that the book has been sent and should arrive any day.
• The book finally arrives in perfect condition and I feel guilty for only having spent $2 on it. Five stars!
• I order another book from the same seller.
• This time the book arrives on time, but it’s a yellowed, ten year old, mass-market paperback that is missing the front cover.
• I pound out an angry email to the seller threatening to give him only one star!
• The seller writes immediately to beg my forgiveness …
• etc.

That is basically what this book is – letters back and forth between a book buyer and a book seller. The difference is that Helene Hanff’s experience is so much more charming and funny and poignant. I laughed all the way through … and then cried at the end (real tears).

Without giving too much away, it taught me a valuable lesson about friendship and living for today rather than putting off ‘till tomorrow.