Author: Tracy

10 tips for Buying Used Books

Books cost money. It’s a fact that we have all had to accept at some point in our reading lives. Just reading a book a week can add up to hundreds of pounds a year, and who wants to be limited to just one?

One of my favorite ways to keep my book budget low is to buy second hand books. I love to rummage through dusty boxes and shelves to uncover gems, and over the years I really have found some lovely deals. (Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies Series, all four books for £1!!) It’s only fair that I share so here are my top 10 tips for buying preloved books.

  1. Don’t expect a system – You might be lucky and find a place that alphabetises by author but, especially in charity shops or garage sales, you’re usually going to find a mishmash shelf or box. Get in there and rummage. Don’t forget to also check the children’s sections for YA books.
  2. Ask – If the shop is in a place you visit regularly ask them to hold any books by your favorite authors for you. Again, charity shops like this because it almost guarantees them a sale. This is how I collected the Game of Thrones book series without any hassle and for no more than a couple of pounds each.
  3. Be flexible – You’re unlikely to be able to pick up an entire series all in hardback with limited edition covers. If you really do want to read the book make sure you overlook the fact that its used and maybe a little tatty. If you’re paying pennies you can always upgrade later.
  4. Trade some in – Most used book stores and charity shops are always happy to accept your book castoffs. Trade in often and make friends. That way you’re the top of their list if anything really special turns up.
  5. Know your stuff – Get to know collectors editions, first editions and similar special features. Know your local covers vs the rest of the world. You could find a valuable treasure.
  6. Know YOUR stuff – Keep a list of your books or wants with you. That makes it easier to check if you already have the book you found.
  7. Always be shopping – Don’t just go once or twice. Drop in and browse every time you pass. You never know what is going to turn up, or who else is looking for it.
  8. All is fair in love and books – Haggle, bargain and barter. Don’t be afraid to ask for a price on the stack of books you’re buying. After all, these books need a new home and if you follow step 4 they have new books to fill the gaps.
  9. Check the condition before you buy – Even though they don’t need to be pristine you do want the books in readable condition. Take a moment to open the book and check the pages are still in tact, not torn and not missing. Refunds are rare in used books.
  10. Admit defeat – Sometimes you have to pay full price. New releases, best sellers and highly popular books are not going to be in a thrift pile. Of course, don’t forget to check your local library before you hand over the debit card.

Did I miss any? Throw your tips down in the comments

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Why Blog?

I will read anything, anytime and anywhere. It’s the best known fact about me in my offline life. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bestselling YA book, a magazine about radio communication or the back of a shampoo bottle whilst sitting on the toilet; I adore words.

There is something amazing about the way words make us feel. How an author can use them to transport us into a different world altogether. As Charlie Brooker recently said “Apparently, you just have to glance at some sort of ink code printed on paper and images and sounds magically appear in your head, enacting the story. Sounds far-fetched to me, but we’ll see.”

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Of course, back before the internet being a ‘reader’ wasn’t the best career choice. There were careers that involved reading, but not many and not easily accessible. I found myself studying more sensible courses and kept my reading in a box marked ‘hobby’. A solo hobby too, since none of my friends were really ‘into’ books.

It wasn’t until a few years ago after realising that my love of reading was also a love of writing, that I discovered book blogging. A dream came true that day. Not a dream of becoming a millionaire from words, but a dream of being able to expand that hobby into something a little more. I started my blog because I wanted to join the community, find like-minded friends and share my love for words.

I wanted to make it career even if it was unpaid.

So I kept my day job to pay the bills and set about making my blog a reality. Unfortunately study got in the way and I recently finished a degree in English Literature. The study I should have been doing all along even if it did lead to a lengthy hiatus whilst I learned.

Of course, I did have my reservations. The one reason I didn’t want to book blog?

I thought I would be terrible at it.

I am so glad I didn’t let that hold me back.

If you have nothing nice to say

 

“If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.” That old gem has been drilled into us from the day that we could talk. But how true is it for book reviewers?

In my opinion it isn’t true at all!

You see, as a reviewer I think I have a duty of care to my readers. I want the to know which books I recommend, but I also want them to know which books they should not touch with a ratty bookmark. If I hated a book then surely I have the right, and the duty to say why?!

It could be as simple as I didn’t enjoy the story, or I disliked the protagonist. Things that might not put another reader off reading it, yet give them the chance to make an educated decision about their reading time. Honesty, no matter how brutal, could help a reader choose between two books. We all know how that can be a time suck.

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On the other hand, as a writer I have also been at the blunt end of some thorny critiques. In fact, as a part of my creative writing degree modules we had to both give and receive critiques. It was harsh, it stung…

…and it improved my writing.

You see, people who only ever hear the positive views of their work will never have reason to improve. Those who hear nothing will likely assume that no news is good news. But those who are given the critiques as a tool that they can learn from? They have an idea of what they need to work on in the future.

I am not saying that we should be nasty about everything we didn’t like about a book. But there is room for constructive criticism in a review for the benefit of both the readers and the writers.

What do you think? Should we only post nice reviews?

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UK Children’s Laureate 2017-2019 is…

Today, with huge thanks to my day job, I was able to spend a few hours at the UK Children’s Laureate announcement. It was a beautiful afternoon spent in the company of a crowd of people who love books as much as I do. In fact, I am willing to concede that some of them might have even loved them more. Of course, those people were definitely the crowd of school children that descended on Hull City Hall for the ceremony.

The role of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate is a title which is awarded every two years to a children’s author or illustrator to celebrate their achievements and to enable them to promote specific aspects of children’s literacy.

Chris Riddell, UK children’s laureate 2015-2017 ended his time as Laureate by sharing a glance through his awe-inspiring sketchbook before getting everybody involved in a ‘draw along.’ Now, I can doodle, but I wouldn’t imagine that I could illustrate anywhere near as well as Chris. But he had us follow him whilst drawing a mouse in a raincoat and I don’t think mine turned out all too bad!

 

Soon enough it was time for Chris to hand over the baton to the new UK Children’s Laureate 2017-2019…

 

Charlie and Lola creator, Lauren Child!

 

Both Chris and Lauren spoke of the importance of school libraries and of literacy. But also of the importance of children being allowed to be creative in any way that pleases them.

“Children need the freedom to dream and imagine; to enjoy reading and drawing and telling their own stories without value judgement or restraint.” Lauren Child

Lauren spoke of watching television and seeing movie posters that sparked her imagination as a child. She encouraged us to allow our children to see the world, stare out of the window and imagine. Because being creative isn’t just about writing or drawing, it’s about being able to look at the world and allow their minds to explore.

She also expressed her concerns about equality in story books. Perhaps setting the tone for her time as Laureate.

Thank you to Chris Riddell for all of his amazing work and of course, Good luck Lauren. I cannot wait to see what you do with your two years.

Work in progress

I love a good spring clean. It’s always nice to take something and make it better. Tonight I started work on a blog clean-up. 

I have transferred all of the old posts from blogger to here. WordPress is much easier to take forward onto a domain later and I prefer the app too. 

I have also selected a template. Of course we all know I will likely change my mind in a month. 

Next step is a big one… It’s new name time. I love ‘thatfirstline’ but it is unfortunately not available so I think fate is telling me to choose a new one. 

Throw your ideas in the comments.