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11 March 2010

What was the last book you bought in a bookstore by happenstance? [More:]
I saw this question in The Guardian Review and I cant remember the last book I just stumbled across. I usually browse for books online now and only go into the book store when I am looking for something in particular (and I am lucky enough to live near Book Culture, formerly Labyrinth.
I'm in an actually bookstore so seldom these days. There just aren't that many around. The last B&N in my city closed after Christmas although there is one across the river. Amazon gets all of my book dollars.
posted by octothorpe 11 March | 22:54
Gosh, I can't remember.
posted by amro 11 March | 23:01
I visit used bookstores and library book sales as often as I can manage, but the last time I bought a book at a bookstore was a couple days ago, when I bought a paperback of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in an airport. Not something I'd normally do, but I had a fairly long layover, and I'd already finished the two books I'd brought with me and the three newspapers I found lying around.
posted by box 11 March | 23:03
It was quite a while ago, at the Strand. I bought J. C. Smuts' biography of his father, South African statesman and general Jan Christan Smuts. It's been out of print for a while, but the Strand is a pretty good bookstore for finding such oddities. It's a big help for my research. Now I just have to find a cheap copy of the man's own Memoirs of the Boer War and I'll be set.
posted by Hugh Janus 11 March | 23:23
Probably the Moosewood Cookbook at Powell's Home and Garden.
posted by birdie 11 March | 23:25
No idea, but I can guarantee that it was a biography. Because it's always biographies that I wander past and them am like "oooooh, fascinating!"
posted by gaspode 11 March | 23:27
I haven't really been in a bookstore in so very long, but I remember an impulse purchase off the $1 rack outside Otto's for Failure Is Not An Option. Before that, probably Twatlight, after hearing about it on ONTD.
posted by sperose 11 March | 23:32
Phoenix without Ashes (Edward Bryant and Harlan Ellison) and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (Samuel Delaney)
posted by Gorgik 11 March | 23:44
Heh, Triton by Sam Delaney. I only go to used bookstores now. New books I buy from Amazon.
posted by Ardiril 12 March | 00:38
That's actually the only way I ever buy books. With buying online I get so caught up on finding the Perfect Book for me to read right now. There are so many options, and I feel dumb not reading all of the reviews and the plot summary and... it's all so overwhelming.

When I step into a bookstore, I can grab a book if its cover is appealing (I know, I know) and will buy it if the synopsis is interesting.
posted by rhapsodie 12 March | 01:58
"The Dog of the South" by Charles Portis, in the new remaindered-books shop (i.e. stuff that didn't sell in the big bookshops) in the old West12 shopping centre in Shepherd's Bush.

I quite often buy books on impulse in second-hand or remaindered shops, but almost never at full price.
posted by TheophileEscargot 12 March | 02:17
"The Dog of the South" by Charles Portis...

Oh, I liked that book a lot! An old friend I miss recommended it to me so I recently reread it for a bit of nostalgia.
posted by birdie 12 March | 02:46
Is that the one that starts with his wife leaving him and follows her by watching what she charges on his credit card?

Last happenstance book: Bobby Fischer: From Chess Genius to Legend.
From The Strand.
posted by Obscure Reference 12 March | 06:51
I often buy books from airport bookstores. Like rhapsodie, if the cover and the precis on the back look good, I'll buy just about anything rather than not have a shield to hide behind. The thought of having to talk to strangers (other passengers) makes even the worst book attractive.

Actually, airports are the only place I really have time to look at books. Having to be there so long prior to the flight means I have enforced timed to myself. It's like a little escape from the world ;-)
posted by dg 12 March | 08:02
Last Sunday at Goodwill. I bought two.
posted by JanetLand 12 March | 08:05
Slow Food Guide to NYC, at the Strand, so I could figure out some good places to go that afternoon for beer, lunch, and snacks.
posted by Miko 12 March | 08:46
Yesterday on a whim I bought Jack Lynch's The Lexicographer's Dilemma.
posted by Prospero 12 March | 09:04
I think it must have been The Girls Who Went Away. I don't usually buy books anymore, but I was leaving on a long trip last year and wanted to pick up McCullough's John Adams. The history section was right next to the women's studies section, and this book caught my eye. It's an absolutely heartbreaking book, by the way.
posted by muddgirl 12 March | 10:25
Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky at a used bookstore in the Mission for the plane ride home from SF. I hardly ever plan to buy books; I pretty much always just browse, whether it's at the Goodwill or a used bookstore. But then I have like a 5 - 10 book a week habit to support, so I can't get all choosy. ;-)
posted by mygothlaundry 12 March | 11:30
I decided that from now on the only books I am buying are poetry and graphic novels, but of course then I broke that when I saw a copy of John Hodgman's latest on sale for $5.95.
So, that.
posted by rmless2 12 March | 12:45
I got a copy of W.B Yeats: A Life Vol I The Apprentice Mage last night at a table run by the local indie bookstore. The author was speaking on campus.
He signed it for me! I was psyched.
(He also spoke in my Yeats and His Times seminar class, which was even better since it was like him and the fourteen of us in the class)
posted by kellydamnit 12 March | 13:10
I like to buy poetry based solely on the cover or whether I like the name of the book. Poetry books are pretty cheap, especially used, so what do I have to lose?
posted by serazin 12 March | 13:32
I often buy books from airport bookstores. Like rhapsodie, if the cover and the precis on the back look good, I'll buy just about anything rather than not have a shield to hide behind.

I was in a rush at the airport once and bought what sounded like a good book from the precis, but, oh God, it was bad. It was A Bend In The Road by Nicholas Sparks, who I'd never heard of before but who I hope I never have the misfortune of reading again. It was Dan Brown Bad.

Normally my book choices are thoughtful, and I rarely buy a book through happenstance. Before the unfortunate Sparks incident, the last book I bought by chance was again at the airport and was I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb, which I enjoyed immensely.
posted by essexjan 12 March | 18:09
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Adler. I like taking chances on fiction books and authors I've never heard of. I don't do it often (because I don't visit bookstores often). Water for Elephants was probably the last one before that, and I think I picked up a Christopher Moore book the same way.
posted by jabberjaw 12 March | 19:56
A Dover Thrift copy of My Antonia, I think. It was cheap and there, and I've been wanting to read it ever since I read The Professor's House.
posted by unsurprising 12 March | 20:45
World War Z.

I don't keep up on bestseller lists, and saw this in a local comics shop. Read a few pages, and was hooked. I'm still amazed that zombies made bestseller's lists, but IMO this is a damn good book and very well worth it.
posted by treepour 12 March | 23:09
"The Living Dead" An anthology of zombie stories from the world's top SF and horror writers.

It is ...surprisingly good.
posted by The Whelk 14 March | 11:53
Oh yeah, treepour - a friend randomly gave me world war z a few years back, and I knew nothing about it. It was awesome.
posted by gaspode 14 March | 12:22
I may get kicked out of MetaChat (again) for this, but || This kid is so friggin' talented