Okaylah. I went for a second round. This time I gave book browsing my full attention and came away with 22 more books, most of them hardback (total cost RM80).
Some were replacements for copies that have gone "walkies" over the years (the Bainbridge, the Burgess). The Annie Proulx Close Range is a hardback illustrated copy to replace the age-spotty favourite paperback. Then there are books by writers I haven't actually tried yet: Anne Lamott, Elizabeth Berg, E.L. Doctorow (I know! I know!), Jay McInerney.
I hadn't read Betty Friedan before (I just heard Sharanya gasp in horror, I think) but can't put down The Fountain of Age (written for old ladies like me, not for the likes of you).
Happiness is book-shaped. And at prices like these, a reader can afford to experiment.
For example. I feel inspired by the note left by Fei in the comments today. She said that she was Chinese educated and only used to read a couple of English books a year - but thanks to Pay Less, she's taking a risk on writers like Primo Levi, Katherine Anne Porter, Walker Percy.
And then this morning, I got chatting to a guy called Justin and his wife, they were filling box after box with the best literary fiction they could find. (I was jealous 'cos they got to a copy of Underworld before me. But that didn't stop me shoveling "must reads" onto their pile.) Justin was in the shipping line and used to scour the port cities of the world for bargain books. He used to love biographies and is a recent convert to fiction ... now with a personal library of pretty good stuff to get him started.
I met a little boy called Arjun as I was sitting on the floor sorting out my pile. He wanted to show me his books too, a whole basket of them that his mum (browsing the cookbooks) had found for him.
The point I'm making is that it is the availability of plentiful, good quality, astonishingly cheap books that will create a generation of readers. Heck, it will probably do more than all the formal reading programmes laid end to end.
MPH, Times, Kino, Popular ... don't look so worried lah. Once these guys have had their first few fixes they will become dangerous bookaholics searching for their latest hit, diverting the housekeeping money to support the habit. Like me.
Have I mentioned that I love Pay Less?