Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Weekly Update: 12-15-15 Too Many Books

During my cleaning frenzy of Thanksgiving break, as I crammed books into my bulging shelves, I vowed that I would limit my book purchases. For every book I bought, I'd have to get rid of one book on my shelf. Such choices are agonizing, but I can make them. The goal was to read the books I have before buying new ones.
Sigh. So much for that.

* * *

My last weekly (er, monthly) update, I mentioned leading an informal Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) group. Most of them were friends from the Brea Library Writer's Group, and no one aside from me had really tried to write a novel in a month before. I hosted various meetings at Panera to write together and show support. It turned out a core group of five kept coming to the Sunday meetings: me, Rita, Carmen, Sean, and Jen, who'd just barely discovered the writer's group before November began.

Well, Nanowrimo came to an end, and we decided to celebrate by going on a Used Bookstore Run for our next Sunday meeting, which was December 5th. The plan was this: start at 10:00 AM, pack a sack lunch, hit three used bookstores around Orange County, and be home by about 6:00. A quick Google search yielded a surprising number of bookstores. Unfortunately, few were open on Sundays, so I had to narrow it down.

* * *

STOP #1: Bookoff

Sunday Hours: 10:00-8:00

2955 Harbor Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92628

Bookoff is actually a chain of used bookstores in Japan, and, if you happen to be in the country, it's a great place for accumulating cheap secondhand comics, CDs, and DVDS. The US chain also has a good many manga comics and anime DVDs, in both English and Japanese. It also had shelves of random paraphernelia, everything from bags to Japanese tea sets. 

None of that made much of a difference to me, though, as I barely had time to skim the Japanese offerings. My friends and I were lucky enough to land in the middle of a great sale, with beautiful books as cheap as $1.00. Carmen found a huge dictionary with colored pictures for $5.00. For the most part, I planted myself in the Children's Book section, skimming for gifts for my niece and nephew and trying to hunt down obscure books from my youth.

An hour and a half passed in a breathless rush. I had to force myself out of there, but not before buying all of about 8 books. Only one of those were for me, but still. I'd already spent half my cash, and I had a feeling I was not going to get any more responsible.

* * *

STOP #2: Camelot Books

Sunday Hours: 12:00-4:00

18838 Brookhurst St
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Camelot Books was only a few miles from Bookoff, the total drive time less than ten minutes. I'd never been here before and had no idea what to expect. The bookstore was hidden in the corner of a shopping center, near "The Reptile Zoo," whose colorful signs intriguingly promised "Prehistoric Pets" and "Jurassic Parties." Sean especially wanted to investigate, but books came first.

The storefront of Camelot Books might have been boring and nondescript, but when we stepped inside, we entered a magical world. Shelves of books on knights and magicians greeted us, and then we saw the display of rare books in beautiful bindings stacked artfully near cages. Immediately, we knew that this was the place for our group picture and the owner kindly obliged. Rita grabbed a book on Celtic mythology off that table and promptly declared it hers.

There was a little kids corner with a table and toys that for some weird reason, we ended up taking over. The classic section was huge, with an entire wall devoted to Shakespeare, and I was really tempted. But in the end, I splurged on an Encyclopedia of Mythology, which was about $16, along with several books for my nephew. So much for cash--I had to swipe my credit card for this one.

* * *

STOP #3: Bookman

Sunday Hours: 12:00-5:00

840 N Tustin St
Orange, CA 92867

Out of all the bookstores we visited, this was the only one I could definitely say I'd stepped foot in before. It's pretty close to my friend Ashley's house, and every time we go shopping together, I all but beg to make a stop here. Row after row of shelves crammed top to bottom with books, discount carts, nostalgic children's books, and non-fiction books I'd never heard of.
I told my friends we needed at least an hour for this one, and I was not wrong. We barely high-tailed it out of Camelot Books by 3:30 and got to Bookman just before 4:00. We stayed until after closing time, though the owners kindly did not kick us out. I thought I was doing well. I'd only picked up a copy of Persuasion for my cousin and all three of Shakespeare's King Henry VI for myself. But then I stumbled across The Great Encyclopedia of Faeries, filled with beautiful illustrations and stories, and, well, I couldn't resist.

We were all very tired by the time we arrived back, at 6:00, as promised. But my book splurge didn't end there...

* * * 

And Then, Volunteering 

Every Thursday, I volunteer at the Friends of the Brea Library Used Bookstore, which, consists of a walk-in closet full of books and about five carts of books and DVDs. We are not as big or as well-organized as the bookstores I wrote about, but we do sell books dirt cheap. Most used bookstores sell books at about half their cover price, with paperbacks going for $3-$4. Our paperbacks are $0.75 and our hardbacks are $2.00. On the bargain bin, they're half priced.

Obviously, this is a dangerous place for me to sit for 2 hours and on more than one occasion, I have yielded to temptation. But this last Thursday, they were having a fire sale on romance novels: 25 cents each or 5 for $1.00. I normally don't buy romance books, but I saw one I'd read earlier and given away, much to my great regret. And so I decided to buy it back.

Well, that just opened the floodgates, and soon, I'd picked out the 5 least corny-looking romance books I could find. But it didn't end there, because as soon as I closed the bookstore, the librarians wheeled out the free book cart. And you won't believe the books they were giving out free. Two thick, awesome Japanese-English dictionaries--I snatched those up--and a wonderful spread of classic books: Of Mice and Men, The Scarlett Pimpernel, Jane Eyre, books by Agatha Christie and Dashiell Hammett. I had a bookbag jammed with books and a stack in my arms up to my chin. You should have seen me trying to balance them all without spilling books on the driveway.

* * *

So now the fancy dining room table that we never use is jam-crowded with stacks and stacks of books that will not fit on the shelf. And I look at it and think, Becky, Becky, why do you do this to yourself? What am I supposed to do with all these precious books. I can't just get rid of them.

I guess I'll be doing some reading this Christmas break.


  1. Oh well, That is a lifetime habit. There are worse habits. You take after your dad on your love of books

    1. That's true. I'm not much of a shopper, but books are a whole different thing. :)