Yesterday, I went to Books-a-Million to pick through the clearance section like a particularly determined vulture, as is my wont. To my great delight, I found The Kiss Murder, the first book in a mystery series I want to read. (I know mystery and I have a tenuous relationship, but the protagonist is a Turkish drag queen who knows Thai kickboxing. How can I not read that?) Since I knew it probably wasn’t in any of the library systems available to me and the price was good, it came home with me.
This is remarkably different from how I bought books when I was a wee lass. In middle school, my friends usually exchanged gift cards to Books-a-Million for the holidays and for birthdays. A ten dollar gift card was enough to get you the next volume of whatever manga you were following. (My manga series was Yu-Gi-Oh!, which would have been a nice tale of nerd friendship if that card game hadn’t gotten so popular and taken over.) I didn’t get much of an allowance, so books came to me either by using a gift card or begging my parents. My only criterion to buy a book was whether I was interested or not–I discovered American Gods, one of my favorite novels, this way, and I was over the moon to discover a box set of His Dark Materials. While I was very lucky and ended up with plenty of lovely books, I realized that this was a very haphazard way to do things during high school–especially with libraries available at every turn, and thrift stores brimming with cheap copies of books.
These days, I try to only buy a book if I know I’ll like it, like a Neil Gaiman novel, or if I want to add it to my library. I’m making an effort to make a very clear distinction between things I want and things I need. While I consider books a necessity and not a luxury, I try to use libraries as much as humanly possible. This isn’t to say that I don’t daydream about my fabulous library that I’ll have someday, with beautiful copies of my favorite books and a nice, cushy armchair to read in. But the way I shop for books has definitely changed since I was a little. I don’t make impulse purchases at full retail price anymore, but I certainly do when I’m picking through a thrift store’s bookshelf.
In other news, I’m heading back to school today, after a very relaxing spring break, despite the Martian Death Flu I had at the beginning of the week. (My poor mother caught it, so she’s not feeling so hot right now.) I haven’t read and watched as much as I wanted to over the week, although I did see Alice in Wonderland, which I’m going to review here, and Beloved just got better. I’ve also been watching Avatar: The Last Airbender, which is quite wonderful–while it’s definitely aimed at eighth graders, it doesn’t talk down to its audience, which makes it suitable for everybody.
And, just because it makes me giggle and it’s technically book-related, I leave you with this video. The opening cracks me up every single time, although it sort of peters out towards the end.
How do you buy books?