Every bibliophile dreams of building their own personal library someday, but has probably been hampered by the reality of how pricey this endeavor may be. Book thrifting is a great way to work towards this goal while still staying on a budget. I usually look for books I’ve already read but want to own, classic novels or books to finish a series that I already have one or two of. Although you may not find the latest Leigh Bardugo novel among the shelves of used books, the money you save from thrifting books can go towards copies of the newer books you can’t wait to own.
It takes some time to look through used books, but that’s part of the charm. I love the feeling you get when you find a book you’ve been looking for or find a copy of a book that you didn’t expect to find in a used bookstore. Here are two places that I frequent to work towards building my own book collection.
The Book Barn (Niantic, CT)
If you know me, you’ve probably heard me rave about The Book Barn. To be honest, I’ll probably talk the most about it, and I’m not sorry. Nestled on the state’s coastline, the store is a compound of old and repurposed barns to house over 500,000 used books. There are three different locations, all within minutes of each other: the Main Barn, the Downtown Shop and Chapter Three. I usually just go to the Main Barn, as I can easily spend more than two hours there. With goats on the property, as well as three cute cats that wander around, The Book Barn has such a comforting atmosphere for book lovers. As a used book store, they also are open to buy your old books. Paperbacks cost $1-$3 and hardcovers cost around $4.
The store has such a vast and diverse collection of books, but I can personally vouch for their contemporary, young adult and classic novel selection. I’ve learned that the best selection is probably during the spring, as people are doing some spring cleaning, and during the summer, a lot of people are frequenting the shop and quickly grabbing the more coveted books.
The shelves at the entrance of the compound have all the books that are new to their collection, which includes a mix of recent novels and a shelf for classics. The teen section keeps on growing, for which I’m grateful. The newer books are found in the unorganized section, but it’s totally worth it to look through. Some finds I’ve been able to score at The Book Barn include “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Goldfinch,” “The Raven Boys,” “Howl’s Moving Castle,” the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “This Savage Song.” I even found an advance reading copy of “Frankly in Love” at the end of the summer.
Apparently, the book section at my local Goodwill (Wallingford, if you want to check it out) is pretty good, so I’m grateful for that. The used books here are not organized in any way — no alphabetization or by genre — but don’t let that deter you. The selection here is definitely skewed more towards adult fiction, so I normally look for classic and contemporary novels at Goodwill, but there is still a healthy selection of young adult books. Similarly, the selection is somewhat older in terms of publication, but you can definitely find a recent book here and there.
The prices here are insanely low, around $1 for paperbacks and $3 for hardcovers, so I usually come away with at least two to three books. I’ve found a lot of books here that I’ve read before and want to own or older books or classics that I haven’t read and know that I should. Some good purchases I’ve made at Goodwill include “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Things They Carried,” “The Secret History,” “Graceling” and some Malcolm Gladwell books. At the Savers in Manchester, I came away with a copy of “The Song of Achilles” and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” so I had to give a special shout out. As a secondhand shop, it has fairly low prices similar to the thrift store Goodwill.
Hollie Lao is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.