Saturday, November 27, 2010
I'm a bit late today thanks to temporary insanity + Black Friday + the most I've laughed in months, which convinced me to ditch my original draft of this post and write up something new.
First, a little backstory: I never leave the house on Black Friday because of the crowds and general madness; there is no sale that could ever tempt me to navigate through this annual mess. My guy also works in retail, and when he crawls home after a very long and arduous eighteen-hour day I like to be here and do what I can to make a nice evening for him.
Unfortunately this year my daughter and her friends wanted to go and see the new Harry Potter movie, and talked me into taking them to a Friday evening show in the city (this is when the temporary insanity kicked in, when I said okay. I couldn't help myself, the kid hardly ever asks me for anything.)
It's been so long since I've been out on a Black Friday that I was rather overwhelmed by the traffic, the crowds and the Herculean task of finding a parking space. Since I'm not much of a Harry Potter fan I decided to skip taking a nap in the theater while they watched the movie and instead dropped off the kids. My two-and-a-half hour wait, I decided, would be spent over at a big chain bookstore's cafe nursing a hot tea and hopefully doing some editing. I figured of all the shops in the mall, the bookstore wouldn't be crowded.
I was right and wrong. The store wasn't too busy, but every table and chair in the cafe was packed with the sale-shocked and exhausted, all of whom appeared to be hunkered down for the duration. Twenty more drooping souls stood waiting in line for counter service, and another ten or so were leaning against the railing waiting for a table to free up. More tired backsides had claimed every one of the benches by the magazine racks, and another dozen kids were sitting on the floor around them. So much for that brilliant idea.
I didn't really mind. I never met a bookstore I didn't like; it's a bit like being at a huge writer's conference where no one talks, touches you or infects you with whatever crud they brought with them (there's a conference I'd attend in a heartbeat: the Silent Germ-free Writers' Fest.) It's also been forever since I had the luxury of time to cruise the shelves for hours, and I had a list in my purse of titles I need for the holidays, so I picked up a pretty tote and went hunting.
The first novel I tracked down was a copy of Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas, which I've never read but my Sanctuary Reads winner Crystal posted as her pick (this is another way I try to expand my horizons; I often pick up what you guys mention in the giveaways and discussions here at the blog.) I also spotted Shiloh Walker's The First Book of Grimm, which went into the tote, along with Liz Carlyle's One Touch of Scandal and Stephanie Tyler's Promises in the Dark. Then I spent a few minutes facing out titles by me and my writer friends because that's another annoying thing writers do when we're in bookstores.
I didn't find anything tempting in the mystery or SF/F aisles, so I moved on to the remainder tables. Not much there but learn-how-to kits, coffee table books and untempting leftover hardcovers. The seasonal tables had a pretty dismal collection of themed titles, mostly buried under toys and other gift-giving junk. But I saw some encouraging things, too: Larissa Ione's Sin Undone prominently displayed among the latest bestsellers (go Larissa!); an endcap with all of Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson books artfully arranged (an amazing series), and Bill Peschel's Writers Gone Wild already faced out in Literary Theory (we definitely need some more humor in that section.)
I headed to the back shelves, where all the lovely nonfic shelves were waiting to be browsed. I always try to hit one section in particular, and there I spotted a shiny new title that I hadn't seen before. I picked it up and read the first page, which was rather awful and thus an instant sale-killer. I read a bit further and couldn't believe how badly-written it was, so I looked at the cover again. The byline belonged to the author of that wretched book I tried to read a few weeks ago. It was like finding a rattlesnake in my hands; I shoved it back on the shelf so fast I knocked another book off onto the floor.
As I picked up the book I'd knocked down, I started giggling over the rattlesnake release and my reaction to it, and then I couldn't stop, even when I went outside the store and laughed so loud I scared a couple of exiting patrons. Which only made me laugh at myself even harder. Once I did manage to control my mirth -- took a while -- I went back inside in a wonderful mood, and shopped merrily until it was time to pick up the kids, get everyone home and collapse on my couch. I found my guy there, cuddled up with the pups and snoring away. After I dragged him off to bed, I likewise fell asleep instantly (this never happens) and enjoyed six hours of uninterrupted Zzzzzzs.
My Black Friday bookstore adventure left my feet a little sore, but not a high price to pay for a pretty tote and a nice pile of books for myself and family. It was also a great reminder that as ridiculous and rife with rattlesnakes as this biz can be, it's also the world of great reads, wonderful writers and things to make you laugh at yourself. All you have to do is look for them.
I'm not finished, but I know some of you have been stacking up the stats on your NaNo novel this week. Anyone reach the finish line since my last post? Still slogging away this holiday weekend? Getting close? Let us know in comments.