My latest bedtime book (requirements: short chapters, not too demanding) is State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey. The book is a collection of 50 writers writing about 50 states. Ha Jin, a former faculty member at Emory and winner of both the National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner awards wrote about Georgia. Jin lives in Massachusetts now.
In the essay, Jin mentions shopping for used books in Atlanta back in the mid-1990s:
“The public libraries in Gwinnett County had an odd custom of discarding any book that had not been check out for a year. They would ship these books to a warehouse…and hold an annual sale, letting them go for a dime a copy. The first time I went to the book sale I bought four boxes…On my way to work, a sixteen mile drive, I would pass five Goodwill stores, all run by churches, and each the size of a supermarket. They all had book sections…Over the years I got many windfalls, among them The Word Finder, the best reference book for English collections but long out of print, and first editions For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Heart of the Matter and Beloved. I cared more about usefulness than rarity, so a useful book, bought for a quarter would thrill me more than a first edition.”