Over the past month I've gotten a lot of pleasure from reading my Christmas gift books. Because I'm the kind of reader who dives into a book and won't emerge until I've finished the last page, I try to keep my reading under control by reserving it for otherwise blank spots of time, like a coast to coast plane ride or a lost afternoon following a crumby morning. Since these books were all gifts however, I feel it's my duty not to delay the pleasure of reading them, and if they take time away from important responsibilities, such as removing red wine stains from the carpet, so be it.
Anyway, that's how I ended up reading midday, without guilt, 'I Want That! How We All Became Shoppers' by Thomas Hine. A gift from my husband, his enscription on the first page - 'Judy, a book that you should have written' - duly captured my love of the topic. Beyond the fascinating facts and interesting theories about people's love/hate relationships with shopping, my favorite thing about the book was identifying my shopping style. Now besides calling myself a flaneur, I can take pride in being known as a palpeuse, or "caresser". Of course I like the French word best, where I fit perfectly its definition of 'a new kind of woman, who moves through the store, touching everything and buying little or nothing', though some might take exception to the truth of those last four words.