For some people, it rings the toll of doom, bringing to mind sitting alone in a quiet room with the cat, a non-alcoholic cup of coffee, and a book. For others, it brings to mind the ahhh of curling up on the couch under a blanket, purring kitty keeping toes warm, sipping a beautiful, creamy cup of cappuccino, and escaping into another world as twilight softly shifts into evening outside of the window. Couple guesses into which group I fall.
Reading, It’s What’s for Cheap
Admittedly, I am a reading fiend. I mean serious fiend. If I could afford it, I would constantly buy new books and have a library the size of Serenity’s cargo hold. (yay, geek references!) I have read voraciously since I was a child. I would walk into the dining room with my book, read all through dinner, and leave with my nose still stuffed in between the pages. My mother took me to the public library at least once a week. I would check out the maximum number of books allowed, 6, I believe, and have them read and come back for more a week later, less if I walked there after school and waited for mother to pick me up. While studying at UNT, I skipped classes, exams, and labs just to sit in the library with a pile of books I’d discovered while prowling the stacks. Today, I re-read almost everything put in front of me, sometimes because I can’t afford to keep buying more books (and when I move…Oy, kill me), but mainly because there’s a deep joy in re-visiting a story I love, knowing where it’s going, but appreciating it like an old friend. You know what she’s going to say, but you love to hear her say it.
My bank account doesn’t have the same love affair with books that I do. Still, an addiction is an addiction, and I have never found a way to break this habit.
Growing up in Dallas, I had the benefit of access to one of the best used book and music stores, well, ever. It’s called Half Price Books. I would wander the Farmer’s Branch, TX store with the air of someone who found the ancient secret treasure of Queen Cleopatra, and it happened to include her private library. It’s since expanded to quite a few states, and the internet. Every time I go home to see my mother and brother in Texas, I go to the local HPB, buy about 15 books for about $25 and grumble when I can’t fit my clothes back into my bag for the trip to New Jersey. I have a few other favorites: Recycled Books and Records in Denton, TX or Half.com but Half Price Books is my first paper and ink love, and besides, the prices are ridiculous.
Half Price has quite a large selection of out of print and rare editions, but as you’re reading the blog by the most continuously broke person ever, focus on the cheap, people. I get plenty of brand-new condition paperbacks for $1 by authors such as Janet Evanovich, David Eddings, Neil Gaiman, and Charlaine Harris. On the last trip I scored this sucker for the very special price of 3 dollars.
My clandestine trysts with cheap, bound pages aside, here’s a list of some cheap book sources, some of which might have locations near you, so check it out!
Recycled Books and Records, Denton, TX.
This got me through my college years, and I still enjoy music searching when I’m there. The music selection is impressive.
Strand Books, New York, NY.
Frankly, I think the prices are a bit high for a used book store, but it is the largest used book store you’ll ever walk into. Multiple floors and huge stacks mean hours of book browsing. I suppose with Manhattan rent they can’t be as cheap as I would like, but I still walk out happy. Every time I go it’s a case of over-stimulation: overwhelmed, but happy.
There are quite a few people who love half.com. I understand – hardbacks for 75 cents? Oh, be still my open, empty wallet.
I would include some book swapping sites, as well, but I never got good at sharing and giving things up. I only let go of a book if it gets damaged, so best not to forget to return them, okay?
Coffee, the other legal addiction
As an afternoon reading a book is never complete without a favorite beverage, next, how to make a great, cheap cappuccino, on a cheap, shiny machine!
Porto Rico Coffee is my favorite coffee place, ever. You can smell the coffee from outside, and when you step outside after a trip in, you can actually smell it on you, oh yum. They have my favorite espresso in the world here: Espresso Cent’anni.
If you like flavored coffee, they use natural flavorings and ingredients. If it has an orange flavor, there will be bits of dried orange peel in there. If you like hazelnut, there will be hazelnut slivers in with the beans. I personally love the French Cinnamon.
Breville makes wonderful, affordable small kitchen appliances. There is a wish list.
I have an old friend waiting on the couch open to page 138, and my two cats are keeping the blanket warm for me. It’s a date.