For one, my local (and wonderful) independently-owned mega-bookstore-and-foodery, Third Place Books, had its Fall Used Book Sale last weekend. Read: we have too damn many used books on the shelves and we are cleaning house. They do this twice a year, but I usually miss it because I'm in Idaho. It is DEFINITELY worth going to...the selection is amazing, the quality is good, and the prices are fantastic. Used books are normally half off the cover price of a new book, and they're an additional 40% off during the sale. YUM.
I think this sort of thing is as close as I come to a real-life treasure hunt. I can go in there with a wish list (and I do), but for the most part, I just have to spend hours browsing each of the hundreds and hundreds of shelves, waiting for something fantastic to pop out, or sorting through stacks of new books until I find one with a "used" sticker, which is not incredibly obvious...I've gotten many, many books there that were indistinguishable from new. I spent a lot of money, I filled up THREE bags to the top, and I have no guilt. I read a lot of books, so buying them at a huge markdown feels like a sound financial decision. Among my prizes:
*A like-new, hardback copy of Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad, which is excellent so far.
*A like-new, hardback copy of the first Postsecret book
*An enormous hardback art book crammed with Monet. Hello, Mom's Christmas present.
*A HARDBACK copy of The Little Prince, in the ORIGINAL English translation, with a nearly FLAWLESS paper jacket, and all illustrations in COLOR. I have been looking for this book for 7 years, ever since I ran across one in the UI library (sans jacket) and had my first and only honest-to-god thoughts about stealing a book. Plus, the last reader had left a love letter in it.
*A copy of I Robot that does not have Will Smith on the cover.
Second, on Monday, the same bookstore had a second, less-advertised sale. It was the 10-year anniversary of my beloved store, and they were having a party. From 7 PM to 10 PM that night, everything in the store was 20% off. Everything. Plus, they had invited gobs of local authors, there was a free (excellent) food buffet, free drinks, free party favors, free Honey Bear cake, drawings, and the mayor read a declaration that declared it Third Place Books Celebration Day. It was super cool. I found a few new books that were worth getting then and there (and not waiting for Christmas), clapped for the speeches, and enjoyed myself. I also got to meet two semi-celebrities while randomly milling around...Ken Jennings, otherwise known as the Jeopardy Guy (I have no idea why he was there, but he was nice), and John Marzluff, corvid expert extraordinare, whose professional articles I have had to read for class, and was less interested in me introducing my gibbering cake-happy self.
Third, last month, I really splurged and bought an antique copy of an out-of-print, politically-incorrect book on Abebooks: Little Black Sambo. I have fond memories of this book; my grandfather used to read me this book when I was little, and unfortunately, my grandmother gave the book away recently, so I can't get my grubby mitts on it. But really, what's not to like? Clever kid with great fashion sense outsmarts tigers, everybody eats pancakes. It's a story for the ages.
Unfortunately, it was tough to find, because (like Cinderella), there are a zillion different versions and retellings, and I wanted MINE. And MINE has been off the market since 1959, which was really too bad, because at a glance, which do you think looks like a better book? Mine?
Or the recent copy, now available in bookstores everywhere?
I rest my case.
In conclusion: books are great.