Reading is my passion but it is rummaging that interests my husband. Between the two activities there is a common thread.
Several clues lead to a conclusion, right or wrong, that the book, the rummage sale is going to be a dud.
My husband scans the area for cleanliness of items displayed, arrangement, and price. If a CD is selling for $10.00, it usually follows that everything he might be interested in will be a high ticket item. He has a limit as to how much he will spend to purchase that CD or the shelf that would be perfect in the garage.
As for me, I love the feel of a new book in my hands and the anticipation where those first words will take me. But, if I find the main character rich, powerful, and able to do what the average person is incapable of, those are my clues that, like a rummage sale, this book isn't for me.
A well-crafted mystery story with believable characters, a science fiction novel, a story so well written I can suspend my disbelief and be drawn in -- that's what I look for.
I have a library card, but I haunt the rummage sales looking for used books to take on my travels. A hard cover shouldn't cost more than $2.00 and the maximum price for a paper back is fifty cents.
What brought all of this on? I started a new book today by an author I've not read before. I was looking forward to it. Darn! One-third of the way through the third chapter, I learned the main character was rich, personable, had a billion dollar business, influential, lost his first wife when their only child was two, now in love with a wonderful woman, that his dead wife would approve of, was giving her a 7-carat yellow diamond as an engagement ring. She accepted, they were deeply in love. Then comes the problem, his son is found dead.
The protagonist decides that this is because he shouldn't have looked for a new love. Annie, the first wife, hadn't given her blessing. This was his punishment for falling in love. He finds out his son committed suicide, per the police. But, he didn't. We know that because we were told that in the prologue.
The main character can't convince the police his son wouldn't eat his gun, but because he is who he is they will take another look, etc ...
The description of the police involved are stereotyped descriptions -- ferret-face, pot-bellied, gum-chewing and so on.
In this case, no matter how the book felt in my hands, the heft of it, and the smoothness of the pages, I packed it away, unread, to be donated.
If I'm lucky, I have another fifteen years to read, and I don't want to spend it on books that are not well-written. To say I was disappointed would be putting it mildly. I was so looking forward to reading a new author, new to me. The story didn't live up to the preface.
Speaking of the smell associated with books, ink, pages, and all of that. I have learned while rummaging for books, to rifle the pages past my nose. A variety of unwelcome odors can hide in those pages, smoke, and musty basement smells are the worse. No amount of airing can eliminate those odors. They are like an unseen stain on a page.
I recently took my granddaughter rummaging for books and she saw me do that with the ones she had selected. Naturally she wanted to know why.
I've always been a discerning reader, but being a member of the workshop has really sharpened my eye.