Before I explore the world of literature I would like to offer praise to those establishments from whom I acquire many of my books: the high street charity shop. In the UK we have the likes of Oxfam and British Heart Foundation and many more. They’re a great place to discover authors unfamiliar to you or to pick up a great classic at a reasonable price. I remember picking up a volume of Kierkegaard’s work that would have cost so much more online or at a bookshop. Don’t get me wrong, we need bookshops. It saddens me that so many are closing down especially second hand bookshops and it could be suggested that charity shops have conveniently filled the gap left by so many bookshops disappearing. Of course digital publishing may also be responsible for the demise of bookshops but as research suggests many prefer print over digital you would expect bookshops to be in a better state. I will explore the debate over print and digital in my next post.
Anyway, back to charity shops. Not only can you pick up a bargain you are also helping to raise vital funds for these charities. It’s a win win situation. There’s also this aspect of sharing the written word. You see, as opposed to buying a new copy you are purchasing one with a bit of history. I have bought books which have had a postcard used as a bookmark still inside. These items give me a glimpse into the previous owner’s world and this can be a source of inspiration in my own work. Many times, especially with non fiction, there have been comments made by the books last owner. For me, this adds weight to the book and causes me to think of all those other readers who have been moved, or not, by the same book.
Finally it’s the eclectic range of material available in charity shops that I find amazing. You never know what you are going to find but it is only by scouring the shelves do you come across something that takes your interest. Admittedly charity shops could also be the cemetery of a failed or unpopular author’s work.
So there you go. My take on what is possibly the best way to find new authors or new ideas. Visit your local charity shop, read and do good at the same time. Win win.