Enough reading for a desert island getaway

Last weekend, Stone Ridge High School in Bethesda, Md., held its annual used book sale. I’d seen a small ad in the paper about it, but it wasn’t until a coworker said that he was selling his beer fest tickets to attend the sale instead that I called up my friend Shawny and we made plans to meet Saturday morning.

One of three gymnasiums chockfull of books

Manned by high school students, teachers, and other volunteers, the event had a decent (but not overwhelming) crowd  as we all took turns browsing the stacks and filling our complementary box tops with books. Two hours and three gymnasiums full of  general fiction, history, science, travel, cooking, and probably every book Barbara Kingsolver ever wrote*, we emerged with what can only be called a glutinous loot. The grand total? A little over $30 for 13 books in good, if not excellent, condition. We happened to run into my coworker there, and he said it was the best year yet.

Shawny browses the fiction section

Obviously, I now have to ban myself from stepping into a Barnes & Noble or any other bookstore until 2013.

Here’s a breakdown of what I snagged:


  • Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer — Firsthand account of a failed Everest expedition by the prolific writer who also wrote an exposé on Greg Mortenson with the report “Three Cups of Deceit.”
  • Into the Wild, also by Krakauer — I never saw the movie, but apparently it tells the true story of a young man who gives up his inheritance to live simply… and then dies. Yeah, bummer.
  • In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson — I enjoyed taking A Walk in the Woods with Bryson and thought this travel memoir would be the perfect way to prep for my (hopefully happening) trip to the Land Down Under next year.
  • Under the Black Flag by David Cordingly — I blame growing up in the Carolinas and vacationing in Black Beard’s old stomping ground, but every summer I have this urge to read a book about pirates. Now I just need a beach and some rum.
  • The Amazon: Past, Present, and Future by Alain Gheerbrant — Visiting the northeastern part of Argentina and reading The Lost City of Z last year have left me greatly intrigued by the entire Amazon: its strange flora and fauna, its history, its peoples, and even the bizarre theories of  its lost civilizations.
  • The Year 1000 by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger — Medieval brain surgery and details on the average height of the original Millennials — need I say more?


  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel — I’ve been meaning to read this since about 2002. It’s going to happen. Really.
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kinsolver* — Being on Oprah’s book club list can be a green light (Eat, Pray, Love) or a flashing caution sign (The Tale of Edgar Sawtelle), but since a friend raved about this one, I thought it was worth a shot.
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon — Shawny also bought this one and is already enjoying it. Someone else remarked that it was the “best explanation of life, ever.” High expectations for this one.
Food (of course)
  • My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’Homme — I loved Julie and Julia, and this sounds equally delightful.
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver* — The author and her family set out to only eat food that they raise and produce themselves for a year. Sounds like the healthy antithesis to Morgan Spurlock’s Supersize Me.
  • Skinny Bitch in the Kitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Bornouin — I haven’t read their original book and am not sure I agree with the take-no-prisoners platform, but the recipes looked pretty good. And at $1 (my cheapest buy), I could afford to risk it.
  • The Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen — Lifelong vegetarian friends have recommended the Moosewood books as a staple for veggie cooking, so I swiped this one quickly even though it had a smudge on the cover and no pictures inside (shallow, I know). At $4, it was my most expensive purchase.

My bundle -- technically box-top -- of books

Happy reading and happy weekend! Keep your eyes peeled for GP; rumor has it she’s in town.

*Aside from the two I picked up, we counted four more Kingsolver and therefore gave her the unofficial title of MPP, most prolific player.

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