One of my favorite weekend activities is spending a Saturday afternoon going through the dollar book carts outside many New York and Boston area used book stores. It’s not only because the books are cheap — although I like that.
The dollar book section is the great equalizer of bookstores. A neglected Dickens or Shakespeare can rub out against a discarded Mary-Cate and Ashley teeny-bopper quasi-romance novel. In the best cases, random shelving creates perfect (if unintuitive and ironic) pairs like Run Run Run about Abbie Hoffman and Fun Fun Fun about other youngsters — a pair I found adjacent in a dollar book section last week.
But you also get to meet books you will never meet in the bookstore sections you normally frequent. The dollar book section at the Strand has introduced me to a whole class of books with intriguing non-fiction sounding titles that I had pulled excitedly off the shelf only to find out that they were, in fact, novels. There are also the books with titles so good you suspect the book will be downhill from that point. The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Being a Model (not, as one might expect, Becoming a model) and this guide to the British pierage are great examples.