Over the past year I’ve had altogether more time on my hand than I’m used to, the end result is that I’ve also had a lot less money then I’m used to. Not having money has been something of a mixed blessing (fortunately not a total disaster as yet) clearly there are a lot of things impossible without it, but mid recession my situation is not unusual. There are social obligations that I can say no to with a clear conscience which is a tremendous luxury, and time to read in a way I’ve missed since responsibility for bills took over my life. Definitely not all bad.
Before this happened I liked second hand book shopping, but I was more inclined to buy new, pristine paperbacks straight off the shelf in Waterstone’s or Borders and order exciting packages of half a dozen volumes at a time from Amazon. New books are currently pretty much outside of my budget though, which has meant something of a readjustment in buying habits. Yes I miss being able to buy all the exciting new things amazon are so helpful as to bring to my attention - but they’ll keep. In the meantime a whole new world of second hand wonder has opened up.
Despite an upwards trend even in charity shop pricing a book compares well with a weekend paper, and very well with a chain shop coffee, so should there be a spare fiver at the end of the week it’s a bit of a foregone conclusion where it will end up. I find it slightly ironic that despite being poorer than I’ve been since leaving university, I’m acquiring more books than ever. Ironic but deeply satisfying.
Beyond the price second hand book shopping has other attractions; namely the fast vanishing pleasure of browsing with the real possibility of turning up treasure. I can’t say that it’s really extended my reading horizons, but my collection of Virago’s has expanded significantly, I’ve turned up a variety of books by authors I love long out of print, and It’s let me chase recommendations from likeminded readers that I might once have thought twice about.