I went on a book hunt this weekend, stopping at a few great bookstores with very strong used book sections. Here are the things I look for in a used bookstore:
- variety of newish hardbacks, some high quality volumes of classic hardbacks, and quality trade paperback books
- a mix of high brow literary fiction with NYT best sellers
- surprises in the stacks- I would rather see more authors than half a shelf of one author’s collection of works
And I know that so much of this depends upon the community that the bookshop serves, as used books require sellers of said books. I have a really varied list that I hunt for, so I can usually find something in any used store. But I also always hold out hope that I will find a treasure – a pristine hardback , first edition copy of a favorite book, or a unique and beautiful cover of a favorite, or something out of print and rare.
At the first bookshop I found a good quality copy of a book that I have been seeking for over a year- E.L. Doctorow’s Homer & Langley.
From Publishers Weekly
The other used book I grabbed is an almost pristine paperback copy of an author who I am so excited to read after having been pointed in her direction by many people whose taste I trust, and that is The Fifth Season by N.K. Jennison. And I will be choosing either this, or her other work, The Killing Moon, for one of the categories in the 2016 Read Harder Challenge – Read the first book in a series written by a person of color. Since I was already planning to read her work, this is just a bonus!
And the last book is a new release, published this month- Sunil Yapa’s fantastically titled book, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist. It’s been compared to one of my favorite novels of 2014, The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner. Yapa’s is set in the tumultuous times of the WTO protests in Seattle of 1999. It’s getting great buzz, and the author will be touring for the book, so I hope to have it read before he comes through.
I was happily surprised to see a hardcover of the newly released And Again by Jessica Chiarella just sitting on the shelf waiting for me. I read some good press about it and since it was being sold at a used price, I figured I would take a chance and grab it. It’s a debut novel about 4 people who are given the chance to participate in a new program to give them their former bodies, free of illness and genetically perfect. I find the premise very compelling, so I am hopeful about this work.
And then I have wanted to read a Christopher Isherwood work since I saw the movie made of A Single Man, directed by Tom Ford, starring Colin Firth (sigh- Mr. Darcy) and Julianne Moore. Instead of worrying about picking the wrong pathway book into his work, I figured I would just start with this one, especially when I saw the beautiful cover. I will probably hold onto this book for a while, without starting it immediately, just knowing that this gorgeous edition is sitting on my shelf for the right time.
All in all, I would call this a very successful book haul!