Impulse buys!

Just the other day I was reminiscing with friends about what it felt like to shop for The Perfect Thing – that feeling of exhilaration and delight! the thrill of the hunt!  It was reminiscing because as I’ve gotten older, The Perfect Thing has gotten a little less important to me, supplanted by The Best Value.  There are whole categories of delightful, frivolous Things that no longer shout “Buy Me!” Mostly they shout, “What about the price of heating oil?!” or “How about college tuition?!”  [“I’m turning into my aunties!” I moan to my friends.]

Still, I like to imagine what it would like to make an impulse book purchase at the cash register of Barnes & Noble or Whole Foods.  It would probably be a gift.  Something like Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks for my young friends in college, say. (Though why is it being published right at graduation rather than at the start of the school year?  It’ll get lost in the summer packing and will be nowhere to be found by Labor Day.) 


Or maybe one of the cute square-format single-ingredient books Lorenz Books has been putting out.  If I weren’t a cookbook reviewer, and if I didn’t have all kinds of good ways of hunting down recipes with my favorite flavor, Coffee is just the sort of thing people would give me when they came to dinner.  As it is, I long to hold on to it and – somehow or other – find a way to test its recipes, but I suspect it won’t survive the next winnowing.  Same thing goes for Terry Tan’s adorable Dim Sum, pictured above.

I guess these books feel “Just For Fun” for me, and “Just For Fun” is (at least some of the time) the opposite of “The Best Value”. Not to say that there aren’t gems to be found in these books.  But I’m more likely to give them to someone more Fun than I am than use them myself.

When’s the last time you bought a little cookbook on impulse?  And do you ever use it?  Have you found any treasures in its pages?

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  • ellabee  on  May 29, 2014

    Never have bought for myself, though now severely tempted by that cute-as-a-button Dim Sum cover. Once was given a little one as a hostess gift, but sadly it was a book aimed at the Anti-Me: entirely desserts and baked items, all super-sweet; also filled with cutesy writing and illustrations. Fortunately, the gift-giver was an out-of-town visitor, so I was able to donate it without fear of offending.

  • tsusan  on  June 3, 2014

    Ellabee, totally sympathize. Can't tell you how many books I've gotten aimed at the Anti-Me, but I think the most memorable was a heartfelt memoir about taxidermy.

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