What better way to express the impact that Books Again in Decatur, which is closing its doors soon, has had on my reading life than to list the books I bought there and for the most part, read. These are all books that I did not plan to buy. They were books that I found serendipitously on the shelves or were suggested by Jim Adams and his staff. That doesn't happen online.
Here's the list:
Famous Long Ago: My Life and Hard Times with Liberation News Service (1970) by Ray Mungo. This unusual book about the alternative press in the 60s set the tone of my Books Again experience. It was the first book I remember buying there and I knew after that I would be shopping there regularly.
White Teeth (2001) by Zadie Smith. A colleague recommended it a while ago so when I saw it on the shelves... It is probably the best book I've read this year, though it's been a very good reading year reading.
Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity (2006) by David Shields. A signed copy, no less. I ended up reading his Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (2008) as well (though I bought that when I was at Powell's in Portland, OR). I found The Thing We Know About Life is One Day We'll Be Dead (2008), at Books Again for $4. The wisdom of this slim book about how we age, outweighs the depressing premise.
The Yiddish Policeman's Union (2007) by Michael Chabon. I had heard for years what a great book this was and the copy I bought was in fine condition. Jim even added a nice book cover to protect it. Amazing how Chabon can create an alternative fictional reality (Jews settling in Alaska), populate it, and then put the characters in motion in a detective noir.
Freedom (2011) by Jonathan Franzen. I refused to pay $30 for a hardback when Franzen was in town for the Decatur Book Festival when I knew Jim would have it for less than $10, if I waited. Glad I held off --- Freedom wasn't nearly as good as Franzen's other fiction and I gave up reading it. Imagine how ripped off I would have felt if I paid full price.
Book On: Work: 1985-2006 (2005) by Chip Kidd. A gorgeously illustrated book in which the book cover designer shares stories about his craft.
Very Old Bones (1993) by William Kennedy. The way Jim talked about this book, I had to give it a go. Worth reading.
The World As I Found It (1987) by Bruce Duffy. I had already read the paperback version of this fictional account of the life of Ludwig Wittigenstein. But Jim had an unmarked pristine first edition hardback and added a protective cover and I was hooked. Irresistable.
I also have an ample stack of to-be-read books as well from the shop:
The Engineer of Human Souls (1999) by Josef Skorvecky
The Plot Against America (2005) by Philip Roth
The Great War and Modern Memory (1975) by Paul Fussell
I more saddened about Books Again closing its doors later this year than the stupid, greedy, wasteful Braves moving to Cobb County. But I know Jim will still be involved in books and will be spending more time with his family. All the best to him and his staff.
For more about the Books Again closing and the reduced prices, call 404-377-1444 or visit here). There's a map too showing the location near downtown Decatur.