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Bargain Books

06 Sep

Photo0077When you buy a  book, do you ever have to force a straight face when you go to pay for it because you can’t believe how cheaply it’s selling?  I do this with every purchase, no matter the price.  For the purposes of this musing let us take a fiction book – a good one, mind – for our example.

As a voracious reader, I spend a lot of my time in the world of other people’s imaginings, exploring creations of fertile minds and discovering the stories of unusual characters.  The philosophies of eras and worlds, the inversions of physical laws, the deviousness of a certain antagonist, the philosophical musings of another mind are all exquisite.  That’s even before you factor in that sentence you have to reread dozens of times simply for the majesty of its construction.

I weigh all of that up (and whatever else comes to mind) against the price I am paying for the physical representation of happiness and I find that I have a bargain every time.  Now because I like the drama, it then becomes a game in my head, does the bookseller know what he/she is giving away for such a cheap price?  Will it be read in my eyes that I have a bargain and suddenly the price will shoot up?  I then spend a couple of minutes in a secluded part of the shop gurning away, trying to find a suitable poker face, which is quite difficult to achieve without the use of a mirror.

Once the transaction is complete and I have left the shop, my mask crumples into something akin to smugness and I can gaze disconcertingly through the window at the cashier knowing I have won the day and that when I open this book I’ll become some sort of deity.  It’s not just me who is omnipotent, we all are and I can tell why as well.

Without really knowing it, the reader takes the words the author has created and moulds them into something more epic than the author can have ever envisioned, a unique conception forms setting it apart from any other copy of the book because it is yours.  It is your gathered experience that is ingrained eternally into your book, which explains why we are so obsessed over ‘our’ copy of a book which is never the same when replaced by a different cover for example.leant out or damaged.

We change worlds, we add layers, sounds, smells and textures to every street, we dare to ask the questions like, what is behind that door that is mentioned in passing and we go further and make up our own stories about that door and where is leads.  Invisible tiers are added to the source material, never noticed or conceived of by any but ourselves (which I always find a great shame)…it is an incredibly personal placePhoto0059 for us to hide in as it really is ours, in all but royalties.

Following on logically it all starts to get a bit metaphysical, how much of the authors creation is actually their own, their inspirations have presumably been taken from other places.  How much of myself have I projected onto the story, is the author highly rated because they are genuinely that good or perhaps it is my own experiences that has made me appreciate the book more.  That would explain why reviewing a book is such a tricky business when opinions can be extremely divisive between peers.

I don’t think any of it matters though, aside from being fun to ponder on. Each story adds a certain something to my view of the world and as such makes me consider things in a different way.   Whether it is the plight of people in certain situations or parts of the world or just makes me look at my own part of the world differently.  Usually in a more positive light which is odd as where I live is a bit of a dive so perhaps the collective way is the best.

it is what it is but the mind is a fertile place and let’s be honest if any book allows us to use our imagination then we get plenty more out of it than the  small price we pay for it.   We take the world/place/era and we infuse it with all of our interpretations that we have taken in before from other books, films, photos, etc and make it something more.  Next time you go shopping remember to take a mirror because all of a sudden these prices are looking a lot better.

 

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50 Comments

Posted by on 06/09/2014 in Life, My Writings

 

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50 responses to “Bargain Books

  1. Letizia

    06/09/2014 at 18:07

    “Swallows and Amazons” has caught my eye – am most curious….

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    • Ste J

      06/09/2014 at 18:13

      Classic children’s literature which I haven’t got around to reading yet…I took these photos way back in October 2012, if they seem a little familiar. Such is the depth of the book collection that I haven’t got around to reading half of these books, rest assured I’ll review them all as soon as I read them.

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  2. shadowoperator

    06/09/2014 at 18:52

    Are you inventing the term “gurning,” and is it like Yeats’s term “pern in a gyre” (turn in a vortex), or is it something I’ve missed that’s in the “Urban Dictionary” on the internet? I mean, are you standing there rotating in space while making funny faces to yourself, or just making the faces? I do know, though, your sense of victory at finding good books for cheap. There’s nothing quite like it, is there? Please be aware of a “disturbance in the time/space continuum” (I just watched a rerun of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” last night) which should reveal to you at least conceptually that I am gurning back at you, madly.

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    • Ste J

      06/09/2014 at 20:54

      Gurning is a bone fide term and I believe even has its own world championships. It is not the most attractive ‘sport’ in the world…I fear for my sense of good taste when the Urban Dictionary comes up when I type in something innocent to the web. I do love a good bargain, Borges’ Labyrinths for 70p was an absolute steal! I love a bit of TNG, I wish Worf would have gurned more, that would have been just made the show amazing.

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      • gargoylebruce

        06/09/2014 at 23:45

        I still can’t help but giggle at Swallows and Amazons that one of the characters is called Titty. Juvenile I know but….teeheeeheeeee!

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        • Ste J

          07/09/2014 at 09:50

          Oh dear! I’m sure the PC brigade have probably changed that in the modern books, they ruin everything!

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          • gargoylebruce

            07/09/2014 at 09:56

            Yes. I’m sure she’s now called Busty St Clare or some such.

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            • Ste J

              07/09/2014 at 09:58

              That is actually quite a good name to use in the bawdy comedy set in a holiday camp that I just happen to be writing but never mentioned before.

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              • gargoylebruce

                07/09/2014 at 10:07

                Her lusty companion could be Hooty McBoob.

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                • writersideup

                  17/09/2014 at 06:00

                  Oh, you guys are hilarious lol Not that I’m big on certain juvenile humor, but the way you go about it here—pretty funny stuff lol

                  Liked by 1 person

                   
  3. Tom Gething

    06/09/2014 at 20:03

    Nice work. August 1914 is one I have always meant to read. Now would be a good time,

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    • Ste J

      06/09/2014 at 20:44

      It looks like a challenge which is probably why I haven’t tackled it yet…I think I need to limber up a bit more first. Russian literature always intimidates me until I actually start.

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  4. readingwithrhythm

    06/09/2014 at 21:26

    Very well said –

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    • Ste J

      07/09/2014 at 09:52

      I got a bit off topic but as I didn’t bother with a plan the looseness shall henceforth be deemed intentional. I am sure a dog’s imagination is at least 7 times that of humans so you know where I’m coming from a lot more.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  5. gargoylebruce

    06/09/2014 at 23:50

    There’s a bookshop near us that sells library books that have been taken out of circulation and the money goes to charity. It’s like the magic lamp of bookstores. I inevitably find books off my wish list there – even completely obscure books that I’ve never heard of, only just discovered and popped on the wish list – there they are, more often than not in mint condition, for $2.50. It’s experiences like these that make me think that reality is actually a construct of my own subconscious mind and it’s probably time to visit my psychiatrist again.

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    • Ste J

      07/09/2014 at 09:54

      It’s a bit like the world of Tron but with less pixels. I am sure there is a Stephen King book about a shop that has everything customers wish for but there is an inevitable price for it…still if the book is worth it…presuming of course there is a book and his is not all just a weird dream…

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      • gargoylebruce

        07/09/2014 at 09:56

        $2.50! Bargain!

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      • shadowoperator

        07/09/2014 at 13:42

        It’s so weird how some people just don’t get our perspective. Every time my mom sees me going home with another set of books, no matter how small, she says, “What are you picking up more books for? You’ve got enough books!” If I say “to read,” she responds, “You haven’t read all the ones you have yet.” Unanswerable in some people’s universes. But if I say “Well, these are free/nearly free, and by the time I finish reading the others, they won’t be available anymore.” She then shakes her head and usually says, “You’re just a hoarder. It’s a disease.” With which we’re both happy, because I have an excuse ready-made, and she has an explanation. But who could see some of these books and not want to take them home–it’s better than looking into the eyes of a new puppy (boozshi-oozshi-woo-woo and other baby cooing sounds, you sweet little books!).

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        • Ste J

          09/09/2014 at 20:39

          Being a book hoarder is probably the best type of hoarding ever as they go on shelves and are fairly neat and will be looked after, some of these TV shows that film the mess are horrendous. I am happy to have a book disease though, it’s cheap as well. Not for us is the expensive item of clothing or the new games console but something which will stand the test of time, will bring good conversation and musings and above all smell great. It does beg the question how many books is enough books?

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  6. renxkyoko

    07/09/2014 at 02:37

    I feel so guilty buying a unused hard cover book at the local library, for a buck. The buyer does not even have to go to the librarian at the front desk to pay…. there’s a box there where you can drop the dollar…. or not. It’s actually a donation box.

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    • Ste J

      07/09/2014 at 09:56

      The donation box, always a risky venture…now you can feel even more guilty by remembering this blog post when you goto put in your dollar. Perhaps I really am just a sadist in denial.

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  7. Elizabeth Melton Parsons

    07/09/2014 at 13:28

    Boy, does this post resonate with me. I have old beloved books with covers falling apart, but would I replace them. No, I just keep adding more tape. My copy of the complete works of Shakespeare is from the 1800’s, water stained and not very attractive, but when I found it at a yard sale, I thought I’d hit the jackpot and although I could easily replace it for a better copy, I never will. 🙂 More important, is your opinion on doing book reviews. Everyone in the world should read this. Sure made me stop and think.. I agree 100%, even though I’d never thought of it that way before. Which is why I shared this post, Ste, and reblogged it as well. Hope your day is fantastic. 🙂

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    • Ste J

      09/09/2014 at 20:11

      Thank you for the reblog, it is a subject that has had me musing for a while, I have hinted at it in other posts but I think it is a topic that will resonate with a lot of people…we all think these things even if we never stop to consider those thoughts to any great depth which we would did we not need to do all that stuff that just gets in the way. I love my copies of books and would rather fork out for another copy to give somebody else than let mine out of my sight…unless I trust people, which is like lending them a lung, very very rare.

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  8. Elizabeth Melton Parsons

    07/09/2014 at 13:33

    Reblogged this on Elizabeth Melton Parsons and commented:
    This post by Ste J made me think about the books I read and what they bring to my life whether I enjoy them or not. Very thought provoking.

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  9. anna amundsen

    07/09/2014 at 19:50

    I found Rushdie’s Midnight Children for 1SEK (which is 0,08GBP) in Gothenburg’s Natural History Museum sale!

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    • Ste J

      09/09/2014 at 20:12

      That is one heck of a price, I haven’t had a success as good as that, although I did get The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark for 10p which isn’t in the same class but made me happy.

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      • anna amundsen

        10/09/2014 at 18:06

        It isn’t in the same class but the amount of joy and happiness one gets is probably equal! 🙂

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  10. RoSy

    09/09/2014 at 02:21

    Who doesn’t like a good deal – eh?

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    • Ste J

      09/09/2014 at 20:17

      Every book is a good deal when you think about it…well every book except my obvious pet htes of course.

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  11. Hollis Hildebrand-Mills

    09/09/2014 at 16:25

    Elizabeth, my husband is a book collector and has quite a few rare books. He always whispers his “finds” to me while we are in the book store.

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  12. Sherri

    09/09/2014 at 19:48

    I watched ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ but I’ve not read the book. My son did and said it was good. He’s like you, an avid reader. Would love to know your thoughts…You would absolutely love Lewis in Sussex, there are so many old second-hand book shops (and no Wetherspoons and the card shops are sweet). One of them looks positively Dickensian. It is great to gather these bargains though…and a very nicely written post too I might add 🙂

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    • Ste J

      09/09/2014 at 20:23

      I haven’t read We Need to Talk about Kevin, I think I own it though, it may be in my still unpacked boxes with Anna Karenina and the vast majority of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books. Sussex is a bit of a way to travel but it would be nice to head somewhere in England, I haven’t done much travelling in my own country for a while. I do love a good bargain, 3 He-Man boolks for 10p each at one of the local charity shops…it was like Christmas come early.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  13. Seyi sandra

    13/09/2014 at 00:31

    I love book bargains any day Ste J!

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    • Ste J

      14/09/2014 at 19:26

      All the best people too, there is nothing better than coming home with money in your pocket and a load of cheap books. Best feeling ever.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  14. Christina ~

    14/09/2014 at 06:07

    Exquisite elucidation on the most sublime of all activities…the anticipatory meander through the book shop….tracing the spines, looking inside…well…you described it sublimely and made me wish to shop for books…if only to achieve that pile that one can never think to pare down, only to do just that with the choicest of gems…

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    • Ste J

      14/09/2014 at 19:24

      Ooo, what an intoxicating start to your comment! A good rummage through the books is always wonderful, touching new and old and wondering at the contents. I do love a bunch of books that are a challenge to just pick one…Having helped you choose a selection I know precisely how challenging you pile is. Tracing the spines, I do love to do that. I anticipate another trip, in fact I may just demand it!

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  15. LuAnn

    14/09/2014 at 22:03

    I found this post so thought-provoking. Although intellectually I know that when I read it is my thoughts and experiences that I impose onto the author’s words, but I have never thought about this subject with such depth, nor could I so eloquently describe this process as you have done. Excellent post Ste J. 🙂

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    • Ste J

      15/09/2014 at 13:55

      You do me great honour with your words my friend. I didn’t expect to think about it that much in depth but of course once I started to write, it just flowed just like my courage down a drainpipe when faced with a customs officer and a latex glove.

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  16. writersideup

    17/09/2014 at 06:02

    And before I got sidetracked by the silliness, I was going to say how, at my local Barnes & Noble, I LOVE the sales annex. I’ve gotten bargains on books I cannot believe! LOVE when that happens, and yes, we get so much more than the price of the book. 🙂

    Btw, I’m hoping at some point to be listing all the good book reviewers on my Book Reviews page. Who knows who will actually look at that page (or my blogs), but I’ll be doing it anyway 🙂

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    • Ste J

      17/09/2014 at 14:22

      We humans are curious and if there is something to be explore then we will. A couple of bloggers do lists and you can always draw attention to it in your posts and I’m sure your fellow bloggers will help in any way we can.

      I do love those fancy Barnes and Noble hardback classics that they sell for $7.49, they may have gone up since I was last around though. Bargain books make it all worth it, I think I’m in the mood for hunting through some obscure book piles now.

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      • writersideup

        17/09/2014 at 17:10

        Yes, I definitely need to make my checklists, charts and calendars ’cause I don’t want to forget all the tidbits to include when I post or tweet 😀

        And although I love EVERY book purchase, the ones that really make me giddy are the BIG, beautiful books loaded with amazing photographs, etc. that normally sell for $40/60/80 and I get them for $10/20! 😀

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        • Ste J

          19/09/2014 at 10:38

          I wish you look with all your endeavours, I am pretty shabby at remembering stuff, so just bookmark everybody and pootle around looking like I know stuff!

          You seem to have a good eye for the bargains, I tend not to be as lucky as you but that’s just encouragement to seek out even more awesome stuff in the future…I think bragging about your bargains would make for a fun blog post!

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          • writersideup

            23/09/2014 at 07:23

            That’s actually not a bad idea, Ste J 🙂 I’ll make a note of it for a possible post “someday” 😀

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            • Ste J

              25/09/2014 at 17:00

              Haha, add it to the list, you can always keep putting it off, I have a ‘guilt list’ which is separate from my normal list but is one I can avoid looking at because I know I really should have written them already.

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              • writersideup

                25/09/2014 at 17:48

                LOL, at this point I feel like almost ANY list is a “guilt list”!

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  17. nancyrae4

    28/09/2014 at 23:02

    Cheap books are great. I buy from Amazon, used. While they are not bargain bin prices I still don’t pay full price, and I pick up books I can’t find anywhere else. And, now that I think about it, I can’t help wonder,,,who read this book before me and where will it end up after I’m done with it. Just another mystery to ponder. Thanks for another thoughtful post!

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    • Ste J

      29/09/2014 at 19:52

      Yes it does make you wonder who will pick it up, I am thinking of writing notes to future readers in books I give away, having said that I like to keep all the really good books, so perhaps the words wont be as encouraging to read, as they would be if it was one of my all time faves…perhaps when my copies get a bit battered and I decide I want a sexy new one…

      Like

       

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