Book shopping at the dollar store leads to new reading experiences

I love to read and used to spend a LOT of money buying books.  In the past, I belonged to two book clubs and had ‘frequent flyer’ cards for three bookstores. I dropped a lot of cabbage on the latest offerings by my favorite authors.  And that’s pretty much why I bought books–so that I could read the very latest release from the authors I follow faithfully.

Back then I also had quite a lot of books, which took up a lot of room and gathered dust and caused more than one strained muscle during household moves.  I have, however, learned a little bit from moving household several times over my adult lifespan.  The most important lesson is that something is only valuable as long as you’re willing to move it.  Accordingly I’ve pared down my book collection, keeping only those books that are truly irreplaceable to me, i.e. books that have been inscribed by the gift givers, autographed copies, my own ‘first copies’ of a favorite book.

With our recent changes in fortune I’ve also had to change my spending habits related to books.  I go through books like some people go through Kleenex, so it’s not really money-wise for me to constantly buy new books, especially now that we are an under-employed family.

In order to feed my habit, I’ve always shopped at used book stores, and as we’ve become more frugal over the past couple of years I’ve become a consistent patron of my local lending library.  McKay Used Books here in Knoxville is a true mecca for readers and fans of movies, music and video games.  They buy and sell all sorts of media and while it’s nice to be able to trade-in a used book or movie, it’s still a tad expensive to buy my weekly ration of books.  And the library doesn’t always have what I’m trying to read, which leads to a lot of delays in reserving a copy–or disappointment when the book just isn’t in the library’s stacks and isn’t likely to be due to budget constraints.  I’ve had to curb my desire for the latest and greatest and content myself with re-reading some favorites.

Just a little while ago, I started browsing the selection of hard-backed books at my local dollar stores.  These are brand-new books, not always best-sellers, and it’s not likely I’ll find something for which I’ve been searching, but many are interesting and for $1, they’re always a good buy.  Because of that bargain price I can be a little more venturesome in choosing a book by ‘new’ authors (or authors who are ‘new to me’) or in a genre for which I might not pay full price at a bookstore.

For example, my most recent shopping trip yielded “Beau Brummell The Ultimate Man of Style,” a biography on the dandy by Ian Kelly.  I’m not one to gravitate toward biographies unless they’re about someone I admire, but the man who was the origin of the modern-day business suit had a fascinating life, which Kelly manages to illustrate lushly.

I’ve also discovered a new author in Wendy Corsi Staub, whose series starter “Lily Dale:  Awakening” is aimed toward teenage readers, but her writing is quick and entertaining even for a 40-year-old teenager.  She sucks the reader swiftly into Calla’s life and the story for a quick and enjoyable read.

I just finished “The Mercy of Thin Air” by Ronlyn Domingue, a story about a forward-thinking flapper who lost her life in a swimming pool accident but continues to inhabit the living’s plane of existence while trying to discover what became of the love of her life.  And I also lucked out and found “Dancing With Dogs,” by Mary Ray and Andrea McHugh, a book which describes how to train your dog to perform basic obedience moves which you can then choreograph and perform to music.  I bought three of these, one for Karen, Leslie Ann, and myself.  What a treat, to be able to find such a fitting gift at such a reasonable price!  But I’m disappointed because the ones who REALLY need to read this book (my DAWGS, duh!) have not yet read it and are refusing to train themselves.  *sigh*

While new, the books themselves are not always releases from the current year, but that’s not an issue since I’m only after entertainment–I’m not getting tax code information or cutting edge technical tips from them. I’m having fun with this diversity of reading, and even better, the books are cheaper than buying a pre-owned paperback at the used book store.  And when I finish a one, I can turn it in for more credit at the used book store!  Give it a try.  You might find something new to read, as long as you’re flexible and adventurous!

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