The Dollar Tree and Me: Books on the Cheap

Hey my happy people! Barry and I are just a few days back from Scotland. I have lots to say about that, but while I catch up with life here’s a post I wrote earlier but never shared.

First, a pic of us in glorious Edinburgh outside Holyrood Palace:


Now the post. 

I have a confession to make: I’ve been holding out on you and for the silliest of reasons: fear of looking too thrifty. But I want you to know about this source for low cost books, my bookie friends, so here goes.

A couple of years ago I took my mom shopping and she wanted to stop by a store called The Dollar Tree. I had only been in one a couple of times to get their inexpensive party goods and as I followed my mom around the store, that’s all I expected to attract my attention. I like bargains, but I wasn’t feeling optimistic. Until.

Ah, you see where I’m going with this, don’t you? Darn headline of mine gave it away.

When my mom and I went down the aisle with books I paused. I cocked my head. My hands began that involuntary thing hands that love books do: I picked one up and caressed it, read the dust jacket. Realized it was by an author I respected. 

At first I felt sad. What if a book I write ends up in a store selling for only a dollar? 

But then I realized this store does something beautiful: it gives affordable access to books. This way people who love books or are just curious but can’t always afford full price can buy one for the same price as a cheap fast food burger. This makes my heart happy and hopeful. 

Not everyone has access to a library. 

What sort of books does the Dollar Tree carry, you ask?

You’re probably picturing odd westerns with smeary covers and tons of bodice rippers that should never have been written in the first place, and in part, you’d be correct. 

But. But when I was there that first time I found some reads by literary and not-so literary writers with recognizable names: The Competition by Marcia Clark, Astray by Emma Donoghue. Bridget Jones Mad about the Boy by Helen Fielding. Prep and Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld. (I know, right?!)

During one visit I ran across See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid, her first book (when it was published) in a decade. I hadn’t even heard it was out! 

I’m making my way through a mesmerizing book of essays bought for yes, a dollar, by Jonathan Franzen with an intruiging cover featuring what I think we called a Cootie Catcher in school.

This is only a sampling of the books I’ve picked up at Dollar Tree. There are fitness books by the likes of Jillian Michaels and Ben Greenfield there. Miscellaneous, mysteriously titled books such as Vatican Diaries , Guide to Being Born (stories) and Lincoln Dreamed He Died invite curious readers to take a chance on a title.  

I’ve got to admit (if it’s not already obvious) that I’m hooked on buying these books. As if I don’t live blissfully near a terrific library. 

But back to DT: Someone Special  also received a book from there as part of his Father’s Day gift from me.  I subscribed him to a guitar mag he mentioned he enjoyed an issue of recently but it won’t be in for weeks yet. In the meantime he can read about Joe Perry of Aerosmith courtesy of me and Dollar Tree. I hope he’ll let me borrow it when he’s through. 

Here are some of the many reasons/uses I like Dollar Tree books:

1. For their affordability. 

2. For stocking stuffers/gift additions. 😉

3. For those times (such as Father’s Day) when that gift isn’t going to be in before the big day but you are not about to give an empty gift bag. 

4. For creating a low-cost book club. Heck, at those prices you could supply every member with a book.

5. For giving an extra copy of a book to someone you think might like it.

6. For forming your own read-and-release program. I routinely buy books for trips and leave them behind when I return home. More room for souvenirs. 

7. For discovering new authors.

8. For locating a novel that you didn’t know existed by a favorite author. 😊😊😊

9. For taking chances on books you might not buy at full price.

10. For saving a book from being remaindered. I’m pretty sure the next stop for these books is the trash bin. When it’s a decent book, that hurts.

11. For projects. How bad can you feel about cutting up a dollar book? And if you’ve ever been on Pinterest, you know there are plenty  of fun “booky” crafts to be made. No, I’m not someone who thinks all books are sacred. The symbolism of books in alternate forms can be evocative too. 

12. For helping a loved one create an impressive library.

I’m sure I’m missing some reasons to like Dollar Tree’s books. You’ll have to tell me if you buy books from there and why. I’m sure I’m not the first person to discover their treasure trove.

(Some of our Dollar Tree finds.)