I love Half Price Books.

Now, I’ll shop Amazon, Goodwill and garage sales for my favorite standby authors, and occasionally I’ll even find a new writer lurking in one of these venues and fall in love with their ideas or styles.

But there’s something about Half Price. Maybe it’s a tad more organized. Goodwill? Not so much. Maybe it’s the variety. Garage sales? You’re stuck in the favorite genre of the homeowner. (I’m always a little more than disappointed when a garage sale ad boasts “hundreds” of books and every single one of them is a cookbook. Or drooled-on baby board books.)

And Amazon? I can’t hold the book in my hands and feel the weight of it. Or fan the pages. Or smell it.

Yeah, I know. TMI on that last bit.

The nearest Half Price to me is about 50 miles away, which means whenever we’re in a larger town and I spot one, the drooling commences and the wonder of what new half-priced gem I may be missing starts to burn a hole in my brain no matter what wonderful family activity we’re on our way to do.

And someone usually notices.

“We can stop if you want.” Their offer is kind.

Of course, yes. Let’s ditch the zoo/concert/doctor appointment and load up with a half a ton of half-priced books.

“No, I’m good. Some other time.” My refusal is equally kind (though they may not realize it), and we drive on our way as a piece of my soul hovers over the storefront.

You see, I don’t enjoy Half Price with other people. Half Price is a must-go-it-alone shopping experience for me. My dear family would be at my elbow or “patiently” waiting in a corner with their noses in their phones, glancing up every thirty seconds to see how much progress I’ve made or how many times the pile in my arms has changed. Because at Half Price, you pick up a gob of tomes and put them all back. Pick up another load and repeat—until the titles, topics and authors are balanced just right according to the discretionary income available in the bank at the time.

And this could take quite some time. Hours. And hours.

So, I’m kind. And I don’t take other people with me to Half Price.

Why not the library? Couldn’t I get the same euphoria from a trip down the hill—and not spend a dime?


I love our library, and I do spend quite a bit of time there, too. (And, quite frankly, many of those half-priced books end up in our local library’s book sale once I’m done with them—keeps me and the hubs out of divorce court *grin*.)

But there’s something about owning a book versus borrowing. Owning means I’m now invested and must find the time to consume what I’ve deemed worthy of dragging home or feel the sting of “wasting money.” I know. Weird.

And if I do find something I love at the library, I have to give it back. And that’s not fair. (Only-child issue?)

The last time I was at Half Price I found an author worth owning. His books won’t end up at the library book sale. I won’t put them in a garage sale, and I won’t sell them back to Half Price. I’ll keep them for a good long while. Collect the whole lot of them, I will, I will.

It’s Steven James’s Patrick Bower Series. Serial killers, twisted plots, thrilling beats, conspiracy and the occasional entirely relatable insight by the main character—or sometimes the villain—that punches me in the feeler.

Now, I’ve read lots of similar books by other authors, and they were okay. Crime/thriller is my go-to escape genre. John Grisham, anyone?

But there’s a problem with some of those other authors. They get way too foul-mouthed and graphic for my tastes. I try to skim before I buy, but sometimes I miss the warning signs. Then I’ve got to skip chapters or skim even more, and I miss important bits and clues—given amongst the muck—that would’ve allowed me to solve the puzzle alongside the main character. So it sort of takes the fun out of it. Or I can’t get past the first few chapters and it ends up at Goodwill or the library book sale. Fairly quickly.

Not James, though. I’ve not come across many other authors who can paint grit like he does and not get mucky in every other chapter, if you know what I mean. No foul language. No graphic bedroom scenes. And if characters are doing those things, it happens “off screen,” so the reader knows the deal, but they don’t have to “watch” or “hear” any of it.

I’ve read five of his novels in the Bowers Files, and the above has held true so far, and I hope it will continue to. He has some other series I plan on checking out when my eyes recover from the reading binge he’s taken me on.

And James starts right in the thick of it as good thrillers should. No dull background dumps or meandering storylines left dangling. Which is good. Because if you give me time to get bored, you’ll end up in a garage sale.

What about you? What’s your go-to genre for escaping life? That novel niche that causes you to forget about dinner in the oven or, better yet, steels your hunger altogether.

And forget about sleeping…

Hop over to the Facebook page and share some suggestions!

Thank you for hanging out for a bit. Check back on Mondays for a new blog and the first Friday of every month for a free fictional short, and be sure to visit my Amazon page.