Sunday, February 13, 2011

Used Bookstore Digs

An attempt at a sort of column.

Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I love cast-offs. My ideal shopping experience involves digging through heaps of crap to find hidden gems. I'd rather have a $30 shopping spree at Goodwill than a $200 spree at the mall, even though Goodwill smells funny and there are no benches in most of the dressing rooms.

The reasons for this are many and varied. Here are a few:
1. I feel much more excited when I find something awesome at a thrift store than when I find something awesome at Target.
2. I do not like being bothered by retail staff.
3. I imagine it's better for the environment to buy things used.
4. I am cheap. I work only part-time and I don't have much money.
5. I am full of latent anti-corporate (not anti-capitalist, mind you) sentiment, so I hate the mall and I hate big box stores.
6. For the very most part, the stuff they sell at the mall bores me to tears.
7. I don't like having the same stuff as everyone else.
8. I live in a relatively affluent area where people like to get rid of new or good-as-new stuff, so I can shop used and still not look like a hobo (unless that's the look I'm going for).
9. I wear a size 8/10, so there's always plenty of stuff for me to choose from. I realize that people of other sizes may not actually have the option of successful thrifting.

The only things I won't buy used are underwear and makeup. However, there are a million blogs about thrifting for clothes, and no one cares what I'm wearing, so I probably won't post about my cheap-ass fashions unless I find something really exciting.

Instead, I bring you USED BOOKSTORE DIGS.

These are the chronicles of my used book purchasing experiences. So gripping. So intense. Possibly of interest if you also live in the area and want to buy books for cheap.

Let's begin!

First Expedition

Location: Mr. Mike's Used Books, Cary NC location
I found this store completely by accident between outings to Chipotle and Trader Joes. (It's in the same plaza as the Cary Trader Joes. FYI.) I can't recommend it enough to anyone who reads SF, horror or fantasy. They have a wonderful speculative section. Everything is well-organized, well-lit, and in good condition. The person on staff was friendly. From what I could tell, all the paperbacks are $4. (Next time you go to Starbucks, think about the fact that you could probably buy a great book from a local business for the same price as your grande whatever.)

What I bought: Threshold by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Why I bought it: It had a picture of a trilobite and an endorsement from Neil Gaiman on the cover. I also like the word "threshold". I can pretty much guarantee that if I had seen a more recent edition of the book, with its updated cover, I wouldn't have bought it. I guess trilobites appeal to me as a reader more than goth girls do, or maybe I'm just tired of emo looking teenagers gracing the cover of like every single book in the genre.

Genre: Horror, I guess?

Spoiler-free reaction: I enjoyed the author's style. It was quirky enough to be unique without veering into the annoying or incomprehensible.
I liked the mix of hard science (geology and archaeology) details and mythological or religious motifs.
I found the characters to be relatable, realistic and compelling.
The setting really sucked me in. It's clear that the author has spent a good deal of time in the South, which is always a plus if you're trying to write about it.
This was not an easy book to read. It's unclear if several scenes actually occurred, if they were psychic visions, if they were just insane hallucinations or some mix of the three. That being said, the level of obtuseness was fine with me. I like ambiguity (to a point). However, I would not recommend this book to anyone who doesn't want to deal with nonlinearity, stories told out of chronological order, or passages that blur the line between reality and dreams.
It didn't give me nightmares, but as I've already mentioned, it was fairly creepy, so don't pick it up if you don't like dark themes or horror.
I liked the ending but kind of hated the epilogue.

Hoard, Resell or Recycle? Hoard. I'll just pretend the epilogue didn't happen.

NEXT TIME: Another book from a different store! Or maybe the same store since I have store credit at this store!