Used Books Have Made My Reading Life Grander

This is a guest post from Janiera Eldridge. Janiera enjoys feeding her book addiction when she not writing books that always feature ethnic leads (part of her own personal quest to bring more diversity to the paranormal and horror genre). Writing is therapeutic to her during her struggles with Fibromyalgia. Being unable to work a normal 9-5 is what encouraged her to write full time. Follow her on Twitter @janieraeldridge.

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While I’m constantly reading about book bloggers drooling over the smell of books fresh out of the Amazon box or off the store shelves, my book senses start tingling over a different book condition. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always had a desire to own used books. Yup, I love books that have been in the homes and hands of many other readers that have escaped into the world I’m getting ready to indulge in. I wouldn’t call it a fetish, I’d call it a mild obsession that started as a child and never went away.

I’m constantly hearing stories from my dad about how when I was a baby, I’d flip through magazines and look at the pictures. Obviously, I couldn’t read the words, but I just had to be surrounded by them. Growing up, money was always tight. As a young woman now in her early 20s, money is still tight. When money is not flowing out of your wallet like water, you have to become pretty crafty about how to get your hands on books. My mother took my younger brother and I to the library every week to pick out books to read. I loved reading books with slightly smudged plastic covers, discolored edges, and dog-eared pages. This meant someone before me had read it. Someone before me had dived into the very pages I was holding in my hands. They had laughed, cried, or hated this book before I did. Everyone who read this book before me had let this book into their life.

The library and its used books made my reading life more grand for many years during my childhood, but then a weird thing happened: I was getting older and I wanted to own my books. I wanted to be able to see the worn covers of the books I loved the most on my own shelves. My first year of high school I was taking AP English and needed to read three classic literature books over the summer. Stopping by my local large chain bookstore (I won’t mention any names out of kindness), I picked out all 3 books only to calculate that they would cost me more than $60. I sat the books carefully back on the shelf and whipped out my phone to complain on Facebook about how much it was going to cost me to read books I didn’t even want to read.

A friend told me about a glorious used bookstore called Chamblin Bookmine. She said they sold used books for half off the original price and classic books were as low as $3. I begged my parents to drive me over to their westside location as quickly as possible. A place that sold used books at a huge discount (sales are my second favorite thing ever)? How could I resist? Chamblin Bookmine’s halls are glorious and seemingly endless mazes of used books stacked floor to ceiling. They sell every genre and every type of book there is. After hours of wandering around in wonderment, I found the three books I needed and only paid a whopping $9 for them! I vowed to come back with plenty of birthday and Christmas money to shop until my heart was content.

I’m not going to bore you with the details of what happened when I discovered Thriftbooks.com (basically the same thing that happened when I discovered Chamblin Bookmine, except online and with the click of the mouse). Most recently my city has started having more book sales and I frequent those whenever I get the chance. They don’t just feed my book obsession, they also help to give back to the very place that started my grand reading journey. Since used books are so cheap, I can add to my collection much quicker than if I was buying fresh new books. I haven’t bought a new book in years and there is one thing I know to be true: old book or new book, the amazing content doesn’t change. Now for birthdays and Christmas, I ask for book money in order to buy used books I really have no room for. I also find myself occasionally going to the library when money is nonexistent and getting books that book blogs declare “must reads.”  Reading has helped me get through illness and depression in my short time on Earth. Every story, whether I liked it or not, has affected my life in some way. Knowing that the exact same book I held in my hands effected someone else before me makes the experience of reading much more special.

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