Book shopping in St. Paul

Even though I am sitting around waiting for various contractors to do their various jobs around the house, it is hard to not enjoy the day. Beautiful weather, lovely breezes, birds singing their little hearts out. And a quiet minute or two to attend to my blogging life.

A few weeks ago I was in Minnesota for my nephew’s high school graduation. While there my sister and I managed to pop into Half Price Books in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul. I probably wouldn’t have made my way to this particular bookstore since my normal gravitational pull when I am in the Twin Cities is toward Minneapolis. But my friend Steve happens to work there so I thought I would check it out. And I did manage to find a few things that made browsing quite fun. And although my suitcase was already dangerously heavy I couldn’t pass up to opportunity to take a few things home with me.

Please ignore the ugly bedspread. (Comfort Inn near the airport.)
The Provincial Lady in London was my favorite find since it is in the same edition as my copy of The Provincial Lady’s Diary.
I have already read and reviewed Fitzgerald’s Human Voices, which I liked a lot. A couple of NYRB editions including Clark Clifford’s Body by Kenneth Fearing whose The Big Clock I really liked…you get the idea.
I don’t know much about the J.B. Priestly book but the cover art and the little illustration on the inside made it hard to pass up.

21 thoughts on “Book shopping in St. Paul

  1. Amanda June 17, 2010 / 12:20 pm

    That little illustration would make an awesome tattoo.

    Did I ever tell you I think in tattoos?


  2. Cipriano June 17, 2010 / 1:36 pm

    A nice little haul of books.
    Isn't it fun to find a place that has a few gems you've been looking for?
    Are the prices REALLY 'half-price?”
    As for me — my own vacation is very nearly over, and I only nabbed one book the whole time, a drastically reduced copy of Why Evolution Is True, by Jerry A. Coyne.


  3. JoAnn June 17, 2010 / 1:49 pm

    You know, I've never been in a Half Price Books. Wishing we had one in the area. I'll echo Cipriano's question – are they really all half price? That could be dangerous…


  4. Mlle Paradis June 17, 2010 / 2:21 pm

    yeah ok. i would've gotten that book too just on the strength of that little print.

    and thank goodness you rescued it and you're going to let it live happily ever after in your new “library” because some more venal soul would tear that print out, frame it and sell it in a junk shop!

    please reassure me as to the former. thx.


  5. Ash June 17, 2010 / 5:37 pm

    I have STILL never been to a half price books. Must go sometime, looks like you did well.


  6. Mystica June 17, 2010 / 6:12 pm

    Thank you for a lovely post. I came to your blog through Savidge Reads and am so glad I did.


  7. Georgia Jones June 17, 2010 / 6:32 pm

    P.S. sure wish I would have been in town when you were, but NM was brilliant and my birthday was nice.
    Glad you found some wonderful books to take back to your new library.


  8. Thomas at My Porch June 17, 2010 / 8:41 pm

    Amanda: It would make a great tattoo. I don't think in tattoos, so I will have to leave this one up to you.

    Cipriano: I actually like the places that have a few gems that you have to hunt for. I think all or most of their books are used so yes, they are pretty much half the cover price.

    JoAnn: See above. The good news is my taste is esoteric enough that the whole needle in the haystack situation keeps expenses down.

    Mlle: Sorry it took me so long to reply, I was at the framers…I would never do that. Honestly.

    Ash: It was fun. And my friend happened to be working that day as well.

    Mystica: So glad you found me. Discovering Savidge Reads and Stuck in a Book is what turned my blog into a book blog. The two Simons were my gateways to finding like minded bloggers out there.

    Georgia: I wish you had been there as well. But your b-day trip to NM must have been wonderful.


  9. Stefanie June 18, 2010 / 8:45 am

    Hey, you went to one of my favorite used book shops! I live ten minutes from there across the river in Minneapolis. Glad you found some books you like!


  10. Tara June 18, 2010 / 3:19 pm

    Get out! That's MY HPB! I live around the corner from there. Seriously.


  11. savidgereads June 19, 2010 / 6:42 am

    Great selection of books and what an intriguing store this looks, thanks for sharing Thomas.


  12. Thomas at My Porch June 19, 2010 / 7:34 am

    Stefanie and Tara: If I had only known! I'd be interested to know what other used bookstores you like in the TC. I also went to my old college favorite The Book House in Dinkytown. With their wonderfully big fiction section I was a little surprised I didn't find much, just a copy of a Barbara Pym. And then I tried to go to Biermaier Books a great little shop (with finer but not fancy stock) west of Dinkytown on the corner of 4th St SE and 35W, but he was on vacation for the week and the shop was closed. Oh well, I didn't have that much space in my luggage anyway.

    Simon: If I lived in the same city as this store I would have found a lot more. I tried to limit myself to the stuff that is harder to find (at least here in the US).


  13. Susan in TX June 19, 2010 / 8:36 am

    Oh, I love HPB. That's one of the few things we have in abundance here. They actually have a great summer reading deal for kids, so we go at least once a week and hit a different store each week (we have 5 within a 30 min. or less drive). I have yet to find an E.M. Delafield book at ANY of them though, so that made me a bit jealous, but it also encourages me to persevere in my quest!
    Glad you found some good ones! :)


  14. Danielle June 19, 2010 / 9:59 pm

    Omaha has a HPB but I never seem to get over there (not an easy trip via public transit), but if they have as good a selection as you found I should really make the effort. I prefer that design of the Provincial Lady books by the way!


  15. Kim June 20, 2010 / 1:01 am

    Very jealous of your Delafield find. A new Half-Price Book just opened around the corner from my office so I will take a peak.


  16. Thomas at My Porch June 20, 2010 / 9:33 am

    Susan: These days I find the hunt for hard to find books the best part. If I bought every book I wanted it just wouldn't be fun and I would never read anything. But having a few hard to find titles to hunt for makes used book store browsinng so much more fun.

    Danielle: The trick is the store stock I think is based largely on what folks in the area bring in to sell to the store. Unless being such a big chain they move their stock all over the country, but somehow I don't think that is the case.

    Kim: Great place to take a lunch break!


  17. madbibliophile June 21, 2010 / 7:15 am

    Great loot. I have to add Penelope Fitzgerald to my TBRs. And 'Half price books' must be the most unoriginal but also the most enticing name for a bookstore!


  18. Stefanie June 29, 2010 / 9:13 am

    You might want to make a trip to Uptown and visit Mager's and Quinn. They are a new/used shop packed to the ceiling with treasure. I don't go there often though because parking in Uptown is such a nightmare.


  19. books&music&steve June 30, 2010 / 11:58 pm

    I am the Steve referred to above who works at the HPB pictured. In answer to a couple of the questions. Prices are indeed half the cover price or lower with the exception of rare books and collectibles. Each store's selection is unique and as Thomas indicates will reflect what the public in that area brings in to sell. Stock is seldom shifted from store to store.


  20. Thomas at My Porch July 2, 2010 / 8:39 am

    Madbibliophile: The name certainly makes the point.

    Stefanie: I like Magers & Quinn but didn't really feel like going towards Uptown. The green of Minnehaha Parkway on that beautiful Sunday seemed far more attractive.

    Steve: I had a reminder yesterday at my favorite second hand shop here that the stock reflects the tastes of the populace. They had piles and piles of new arrivals and precious few were fiction. I think Washington would benefit if people would put down their political bios and read a good novel.


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