Used-bookstore favorites

Here are some gems I’ve found at used bookstores –

A Late Phoenix  Aird, Catherine
Forbidden Sanctuary  Bowker, Richard

Web of Everywhere  Brunner, John

The Stardroppers  Brunner, John
New Writings in SF-7  Carnell, John

Under the Green Star  Carter, Lin

The Dreamstone   Cherryh, C.J. *
Childhood’s End  Clarke, Arthur C.

Spock, Messiah!  Cogswell, Theodore R.

Duende Meadow  Cook, Paul *

The Cloud Walker  Cooper, Edmund

Sea-Horse in the Sky Cooper, Edmund

Transit  Cooper, Edmund

The Overman Culture  Cooper, Edmund

A.I.s    Dann, Jack *


The Alchemist’s Pursuit   Duncan, Dave

Swimmers Beneath the Bright  Easton, M. Coleman
Iskiir  Easton, M. Coleman

Star-Anchored, Star-Angered  Elgin, Suzette Haden

The Stone God Awakens  Farmer, Philip José

The Unreasoning Mask  Farmer, Philip José

By the Time I Get to Nashville  Fenn, Lionel
Cyber Way  Foster, Alan Dean

Copernick’s Rebellion  Frankowski, Leo

Plainsong: A Thomas Dunne Book  Grabien, Deborah

Vengeance For A Lonely Man (Hawk & Fisher, #4)  Green, Simon R.

The Silver Bear (Silver Bear, #1)  Haas, Derek

The Mind Brothers  Heath, Peter

The Sleep Eaters  Lymington, John

The Seekers of Shar-Nuhn  Mayhar, Ardath

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld  McKillip, Patricia A.

A Place Beyond Man: The Archives of Varok  Neeper, Cary

Virtual Zen  Nelson, Ray Faraday
Protector (Known Space)  Niven, Larry

The Crystal Gryphon (Witch World Series 2: High Hallack Cycle, #5)  Norton, Andre

A Plague of Pythons  Pohl, Frederik
The Cool War  Pohl, Frederik

Stepfather Bank  Poyer, David

The Tears of the Singers  Snodgrass, Melinda M.

The People Beyond the Wall   Tall, Stephen


Book addiction

You might be addicted to books if you understand this –

That feeling to get when your book runs out before your lunch does, and you forgot to bring a back up.

When you finish a book and you don’t want to start another because you are still in the world you were reading.

That delightful feeling when you find a new-to-you author who has a lot of books in a series. Finding a series means you don’t have to get acquainted with new characters.

That feeling when you really love a book and you realize there isn’t a series, so you will never learn anything more about those characters.

Not wanting to finish a book because you don’t want it to end.

Always having a spare book in your car just in case.

Having more books on your to-read list than you have time.

Going to used book stores when you are on vacation in the hopes you will find a new favorite book.

You have library cards in vacation places you visit regularly.

You talk about book characters as if they were real.

You have flashbacks of what book you were reading the last time you were in that restaurant.

You get your friends to read the same books you are reading so they will understand what you are talking about.

You have an understanding with your spouse that you will both be reading books when you go out to eat.

Goin’ on a book hunt…

I love going to used book stores. I’ve created a method to find the next great book I’m going to read in the speculative fiction section. I’ve discovered some amazing gems this way.

At any point the book can be passed aside. There are various tests that each book must pass. Sometimes a book will pass several tests, but not the following one. Then, depending on how high they rate in the previous tests, I may still give it a try.

First, the book has to be half an inch thick or less. Less is better. If the author needs 500 pages to get to the point, I’m not interested. Break it up into a trilogy if you have that much to say.

One reason for this requirement is that I often hold paperbacks with one hand while eating, and I often carry paperbacks in my purse. The smaller, the better. Size does in fact matter.

Second, I look at the cover art. Yes, I do judge a book by its cover. We all do, don’t look at me like that. There are some really amazing covers out there. There some real clunkers too. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I want to see a picture that is worthy of the words I am considering reading.

Deal-breakers? The cover has a picture of a muscle-bound man with a sword or a gun. Especially if he has a nearly-naked woman by his side. If the woman has a sword too, I reconsider. I am tired of books where the woman has to be rescued. Then there are covers with lots of spaceships and antennae. I’ve found I like books that are set on other planets with other cultures, but I’m not so interested in books that are set on a spaceship. Somehow I get claustrophobic reading those.

Camp is not my thing, so covers that look excessively silly won’t do.

This “druid” looks like he has been mainlining steroids.

Now, if the cover art is really good I’ll consider buying it just for the cover, but the cost is then an important factor.

Third – the price has to be right. Under $2 is good. $0.75 or less is ideal. Because of this, I don’t look at well-known authors. Because of this I’ve found some amazing “new” authors. They aren’t new at all. They are probably dead, because most of the books I’m reading are 30 years old or more. But there are probably other books by that author to find the next time I go.

If the price is over $2, there had better be other factors that change the balance. It doesn’t mean it is out, but it does mean there had better be other points in the book’s favor. Now, $4 or more is right out.

Fourth – I flip to the back and read the blurb. Is it interesting? (plus) Is there excessive capitalization? (minus)

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Are there long silly names? (minus)

Fifth, I open it. If the print is tiny then everything ends right there, even if everything else passed. I am getting older, and tiny print is a real pain. I love my Kindle in part because I can make the print as big as I need, but that doesn’t factor into used book selection. Plenty of these books will never make it to Kindle. Even if they did, they’d cost too much. I love the Kindle, but you can’t trade in used Kindle books like you can real books.

I’ll flip to a random section and try it out. How does it read? Are there lots of unintelligible words? (minus) Does it seem plausible yet surprising? (plus) I’ll flip to several sections to check it out at this point. This part takes the longest, which is reasonable. I’m going to spend the longest amount of time reading it, so it had better be worth my time.

Sixth- How does the book smell? And I don’t mean that old-book smell. That is a plus. I mean does the book smell like pee – human or pet? Does it smell like cigarette smoke? Does it smell of some cloyingly elaborate perfume that some ladies wear to cover up the other two smells?

Those are definite deal-breakers. I have no desire to spend hours really close to a book that smells.

Here are some covers of books I’ve enjoyed recently using this technique. I hope it inspires you to find new authors. Happy hunting!
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Here’s a collection of some I found using this method for the first time. It was on a road trip.