Reading on the Cheap by Stephen Halpert #ReadingWithTheAuthors #WordPressWednesday

Reading on the Cheap by Stephen Halpert #ReadingWithTheAuthors #WordPressWednesday

Reading on the Cheap

By: Stephen Halpert

Fortunately, I grew up in a home full of books where despite the allure of early television, reading had always been preferred. My mother and grandmother read about British nobility as well as exposes of the rich and famous. My father preferred espionage novels and mysteries from James Bond and Matt Helm to Mike Hammer and Perry Mason.      

Since the sixth grade after school and on weekends I’d treasure hunt for those controversial titles banned to underage readers by the Providence Public Library at the insistence of the Legion of Decency. After several frustrating encounters with a prissy librarian for trying to take out books by James Joyce, Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence, Anias Nin, even Jack Kerouac to name but a few I realized that if I wanted to read something in particular, I’d have to buy it.

But even then, books were expensive, more than my meager schoolboy allowance permitted. That’s when I discovered the secondhand book shops near Brown University as well as the clearance shelves in the Brown bookshop. As long as I had plenty to read I didn’t mind waiting for a specific title like Peyton Place or The Old Man And The Sea to appear in paperback.

My boyhood bedroom was too small for the sprawling bookshelves I wanted. Instead between my bed and bureau much to my mother’s chagrin I kept a pile of books, comics, and magazines waiting to be read. This habit followed me throughout college into adulthood.

Raising a family has always been an expensive proposition and working for genteel wages in publishing extra money for new books was close to impossible. In Boston during and after college while working for D.C. Heath and Little, Brown I frequented Morgan Memorial and at Book Clearing House and Brentano’s found closed out remainders and occasionally when I wanted to splurge, I ordered discounted books from New York’s Marlboro Books. I always felt that the best way to find something fascinating to read was to have no idea what I was looking for.

Not being a fan of prime-time TV I find there is still something wonderful and reassuring about reading. To me then as well as now books have always been the best way to combat summer heat waves or the tedium of a New England winter. Even those few times when power was lost all I needed was a flashlight and something exciting to read to see me through blizzards and ice storms.     

Old habits die hard. Even today on my side of our bed a pile of books awaits me. Seeing them is as reassuring today as many decades ago.

Regardless where I’ve lived, be it Boston, Newton, Marblehead, even Reston, Virginia interesting, fascinating books were always available; so plentiful at the sale table at the Reston Public Library that I wondered where I’d find comparable variety when Tasha and I relocated to Grafton during the summer of 1989.

Little did I know when we moved to Sartell Road that early the following year the Friends of the Grafton Library primarily due to the effort of Henry and Gail Pollard would open the Down Under bookshop in the basement of our public library in Grafton Center.

There is something old world and charming about prowling these subterranean shelves discovering heretofore unknown, out of print treasures as well as novels, plays poetry, even art books by authors and artists as yet unknown to me. 

What makes Down Under so special a treasurer to members of Friends and town residents alike is that it’s recycled dynamic creates a win win situation for Grafton. Through books, cd’s and DVD’s donated Friends are able to generate income that provides tickets to museums and cultural events of benefit to everyone.

What’s incredible and especially wonderful for me is that all books are priced at a dollar. In order to refrain from buying too many at any one time that I’d neither have time to read nor shelves to hold I try limit my purchases to a maximum of five books per visit.

Five dollars! I have to laugh thinking about going to Barnes & Nobel or Tatnuck in Westborough with only five dollars to spend. That sum would barely cover a pastry, iced tea and maybe a remaindered paperback of dubious distinction.

But at Down Under my five dollars is a kingly sum. At any given time it’s hard for me to choose which five books to buy when I see so many fascinating titles waiting to be taken home, read and recycled back to Down Under in order to keep alive their brilliant win win recycling equation.



 This collection of original, unusually intriguing short stories is an exuberant tour de force of

wit, humor and insight into the human condition. The collection of magical tales will entrance, entertain and prompt readers to ponder the true nature of reality. They will definitely entertain you and make you wonder a bit about the twists and turns that life can take. You may even fall in love with

some of his characters and wish they were real and present in your life.

Heartwings:Love Notes for a Joyous Life by Tasha Halpert

 This heartwarming book brings a breath of sunshine against the cold of any day and kindly and

gently reveals a deeper level of understanding for all. It provides a helpful path for anyone concerned with personal self-development to follow. Sharing

a lifetime of comforting knowledge gleaned from living and loving life, the emotionally intelligent author leads readers on an introspective journey to

a greater sense of realization, joy, and inner peace. Her poetry is moving, and a poem follows each thought-provoking essay.

Up to My Neck in Lemons by Tasha Halpert is a collection of practical as well as metaphorical uses for life’s lemons. This collection of essays and poems

provides insights gained from daily life experiences, both happy and sad. The stories illustrate how to appreciate what might at first have seemed unfortunate.

The recipes are author favorites, and are both sweet and sour, cleansing and therapeutic. This book will bring comfort and insight on turning life’s lemons into lemonade. The poems that follow each essay form an enjoyable adjunct to the wisdom and insight this book brings the reader.

Each book is $15.00 postpaid autographed by the author. Write to Tasha Halpert at P.O.Box 171 and include a check to receive a copy of any of these entertaining

and even perhaps helpful books.


Shop for Stephen and Tasha’s books online at:


  1. What a good article, Stephen. I love the idea of the “Down Under” library. What fun to find treasures and then cycle them back to resell to others. When I lived in Silicone Valley, we had an amazing book store that was all used books. My husband and I found many treasures that we could not have bought as new books. We were both working 2 – 3 jobs to pay off my student loans. Our frugal lifestyle paid off – we were debt three in less than 2 years. We also found that yard sales are a wonderful place to pick up books for 25 cents – another good way to find great stuff for lots less. I’ve also found fantastic books on E-bay – special books that were out of print.
    I also loved your pile of books beside the bed – my husband sits in his recliner and there are piles of books surrounding that chair – under the sofa in his reading room, and in his closet in a dresser – and beside his bed. I won’t even mention where I also place books that are mine. lol I cannot physically read a book these days, but I still buy contemporary poetry books – that is my passion. I like to know they are there on my shelves and I can slowly wade through a book by using my Merlin C C T V – very very slowly!

    1. Good morning, Stephen, Lynda and all. I hope this comment finds you doing wonderful on this beautiful spring morning.

      Lynda, I love the visual of Bob’s reading room and I can imagine where some of your books go. LOL.

      I also have discovered a way to read printed material. I found I can use an app on my phone called Seeing AI and this it turns out not only allows me to read mail and labels but also pages from a book. Which means I can enjoy things like your Chapbook first snow, and my spring edition of The Avocet.

      Stephen, I love your description of hunting for books when the prissy librarian turned you away. My mother used to troll secondhand book stores, yardsales, and flea markets for books. Then, one day she discovered the Double Day Book Club and suddenly, our mailman was getting a workout delivering books straight to the door.

      This was a lovely post and I’m pleased and privileged to have Stephen here in Patty’s world.

      Do come back on Friday for the Featured Author of the Week, for Stephen and his lovely wife Tasha will be visiting us on that day.

      Thanks for reading and for commenting. Have a lovely day.


      Patty L. Fletcher lives in Kingsport Tennessee where she works full time as a Writer with the goal of bridging the great chasm which separates the disAbled from the non-disAbled. She is Also a Social Media Marketing Assistant.

      To learn more see:

  2. […] Stephen: To better answer you I invite you to read Reading on the Cheap, which says more about me than I can say right now. […]

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