Monday, March 12, 2012

Feeding My Addiction on the Cheap

I’ve mentioned it in previous posts (see Linky-thing One and Linky-thing Two), but it bears repeating.  I’m a cheap bastard.  I don’t like paying full price for… well, anything.  When you’re addicted to collecting books like I am, that little foible can make scratching the itch even more torturous.  E-Arcs from Netgalley are all well and good, but they don’t exactly sate the gnawing hunger that is my bibliomania.  For that I need something more tangible, something with pages I can feel and smell and hear—hell, maybe even taste, if I’m so inclined. 

So that leaves me with a quandary—how to fulfill my need for dead tree books and still be kind to my bank account?  Enter the second-hand retail outlet, my spendthrift savior.

There are no shortage of used bookstores out there.  I’ve been to quite a few of them, and I’ve liberated many a book from their shelves.  But there’s one in particular I’ve come to love for it’s rock bottom pricing, a Goodwill wholesale store near my office. 

For those of you who either live under a rock or live outside of the U.S. (some might say those are the same thing, but I would tend to disagree), Goodwill Industries is a loosely organized charity network with a presence in all 50 states of the union and even some foreign countries.  They take in donations of unwanted goods, turn them around and sell them in their thrift stores, and then use the money to provide employment, job training, and many other services to those in need.  Being equal opportunists when it comes to the donations they’ll accept, there are always a good selection of cheap books to be found at their stores. 

This one store in particular, however, stands out.  That’s because, rather than having each item sorted and priced individually, they’re instead jumbled up in bins of like items and sold by the pound at amazingly low prices.  Books, CDs, and videos—any type of media, really—go for $.25 a pound.  A pound!  Of course, there are some inherent drawbacks to this retail model.  The books are contained in these dumpster-sized bins with no concern for organization or gentility.  Thus in order to find anything you have to dig for it, and all that digging has a tendency to bend spines and rip covers and generally make a mess of things.  But if you mind working like a coal miner for your treasure, you can unearth some really awesome finds that are still in good condition. 

I recently took a foray over that way on my lunch break, and came out with nine (almost) new books for a grand total of one dollar.  One freakin’ dollar!  Here’s what I got:

Gallows View by Peter RobinsonGallows View is the first in the Inspector Alan Banks series of mysteries.  Originally published in 1987, the novel is set in Yorkshire, England, and, as one might expect, involves some sort of murder mystery.  Right up my alley.  The fact that the Alan Banks books have been nominated for a plethora of awards over the years is icing on the cake.

The Age of Belief: the Medieval Philosophers by Anne Freemantle – Have I ever mentioned that I like medieval literature?  If I haven’t, that’s only because I haven’t read any on that particular subject recently.  This little paperback seems to be a good primer on a lot of philosophical and religious writers of the period, which is why I picked it up.  It was also published in 1962, so it fits in nicely with all my other vintage books.

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams – Who can forget Marlon Brando (back when he was a ripped young Adonis instead of a slovenly old man) standing on the New Orleans street and shouting up at his wife, “Stellllaaaaaaaaa!”  Of course, that was the movie adaptation, and this is the original drama penned by the master dramatist (and the guy with the best first name ever), Tennessee Williams.  I’m not planning on reading this book anytime soon, but it deserved inclusion in my collection of literary classics.

King Solomon’s Mines by H.R. HaggardKing Solomon’s Mines was originally written in 1885 in the heyday of classic adventure novels.  It’s the story of Allan Quartermain and his expedition into an unexplored region of Africa to rescue a man who has disappeared while searching for the legendary mines of King Solomon.  It’s a classic in every respect (except perhaps in regard to its antiquated treatment of race and gender), and I’m eager to read it.

Haiku Harvest edited by Peter Beilenson – I read mostly novels, but I also enjoy a foray into poetry every now and then.  Haiku Harvest is a collection Haikus (duh) from various Japanese writers and various time periods.  I don’t expect a lot out of it, but I thought it was cool and different and interesting, so I bought it.  For $.25 a pound, can you blame me?

The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry – A couple years ago my father-in-law lent me a copy of a thriller called The Third Secret by Steve Berry (the review of which you can find over here on Librarything).  I enjoyed it pretty well, so I thought I’d give another book of his a whirl.  I’m not exactly sure what it’s about, but I gather from the title that it’s another one of the many books that jumped on the Da Vinci Code / National Treasture / Holy Blood, Holy Grail bandwagon that was rocking and rolling between 2004 and 2008 (until it was overtaken by the Twilight / vampire / werewolf / bullcrap craze that so recently hit the mainstream).  Despite all appearances, I'm not completely jaded on the Templar subject yet, so it’ll probably be enjoyable.

Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence – I have never read a book by D.H. Lawrence, nor do I plan to in the immediate future.  One day curiosity will get the better of me and I will finally crack open Lady Chatterly’s Lover and slug through the dense and obscure text until I finally unearth the gem of literary wisdom that lies at the center of that beast.  If I’m being honest with myself, however, I’ll probably never read Women in Love.  It’s the 1920 sequel to Lawrence’s earlier novel, The Rainbow, and the only reason I purchased it was because it is in the catalogue of literary classics and would make a respectable addition to my library.  Does that make me a literary poseur?  Probably.

Cliffs Notes on Dickens’ Great Expectations and Cliffs Notes on Fitzgerald’s the Great Gatsby – Speaking of being a literary poseur, I also got a couple of Cliffs Notes books.  I know, I know.  No self-respecting book nerd would ever consider reading the Cliffs Notes rather than the actual text, and I can assure you that I don’t fall into this category of literary heathenism.  But they can be pretty good study aids, and the hopeful father in me thinks they might come in handy when my little ones are forging their own paths into literary academia.  I suppose I’m just a wee bit idealistic in that regard.

And that about does it—a pretty good haul, if I do say so myself.  My back hurt a little after all that rooting around in the book stacks, but it was well worth it.  You can’t put a price tag on a good book. 

Well, I guess you can.  Matter of fact, you certainly can.  But you know what I mean, right?


  1. Looks like you found some great books! I've read a couple novels by Steve Berry and enjoyed them quite a bit. I've been meaning to read The Templar Legacy, as it is the first novel in his Cotton Malone Series. I'd love to know what you think of it when you get around to reading.

    Since you love getting new books, you might be interested in entering my giveaway for the chance to win a signed copy of Banned for Life by D.R. Haney. Its kind of a coming of age story with a punk rock twist.


    1. Thanks, Ethan. I'll be sure to check it out. And yeah, I have a feeling The Templar Legacy is going to be a pretty good read--now even more so given your endorsement of the series. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Wow I need to find one that does it by the pound! Anywho, I'm a new follower from book blogs and thought I would say hi. Trrev @

    1. It's pretty nice, I gotta tell ya. Thanks for reading and for following. I've followed your blog as well.

  3. I'm so happy that you wrote this post. I'm going through the emotional turmoil of getting rid of some of my books and I hadn't decided what to do with them. I know I could donate them to the library but for some reason it doesn't feel that they really have the need for it. I love my local Goodwill but I know that people tend to go there for clothes. Would my books languish?
    The answer, it appears, is a resounding "no".

    Thanks for the help!

    1. Well I'm ao glad that you read this post. Yeah, if threre are any people in St. Louie with the same affliction as me, then I'm sure they will find a good home.

      On the other hand, you could always try selling them on or something like that and earn a little walking around money. Might come in handy, being a pooe college student and all. :D

  4. I wish I could buy nine books for a bit more than a coffee here. I think the best I got were 3 books for 1€ in a second-hand book fair.

    If you want free/very cheap books, you might want to see if libraries where you live gift or sell books they don't want anymore. Most of the books I see in the libraries I go to are non-fiction, but I got some books like The Tailor of Panama, some Agatha Christie novels and some old editions of Karl May novels for free. It's very obvious that the books have been read by several people, but I'm not going to complain if I get them for free.

  5. You know, that's an excellent idea. I'm going to try that when I get a chance. And yeah, I don't mind getting much loved books. They're cheaper that way. : )

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