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The Journey for “The” Book

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Argos Used Books in Eastown

Argos Used Books in Eastown

I am always struggling to find “The book” to share a relaxing Sunday afternoon with. Most people would head to the nearby mega book store, which is what I decided to do as well. The crazy traffic in the parking lot; darting to attempt not to get hit by the drivers focused on their next shopping destination, I eventually make it through the doors and feel the external pressure from the air conditioning. The first sensation is the amount over stimulus that I feel - the hum of clamoring people, cell phone conversation and overhead music detracting from the purpose of the visit to the store - finding “The” book.

“The” book has very high expectations. I have struggled throughout the years with a variety of tactics that my book nerd friends have passed onto me: 

  • Go straight to the section you enjoy. There, you just look around. If a title catches your eye, pick the book up, read the back cover, then flip through quickly to estimate how many pages there are and the size of the font. If it looks good, is long, and has small writing, buy it.
  • Keep an index card file of authors with titles of all the books written by the author. When you read a book, note the date & rate it. When you buy a book highlight in yellow so you won't buy it again.
  • Already know what book(s) you will purchase because you can call to see if the book(s) you would like are in stock. Then you rarely have to peruse the shelves and can completely ignore the bestsellers because they have little, if any, literary quality to recommend themselves.
  • Get recommendations from friends as to what author is good, then read the summary, then open to a random page and make sure you like the writing style. And sometimes on your way to the author, another book looks so intriguing that you just have to stop and check it out.

None of these tactics usually work for me. People say you should never judge a book by its cover ... but, to be perfectly honest, I find if the cover really grabs my attention, then there's a good chance the book will too.

After what seemed like a hour of moving slowly up and down the aisles with little to no attention given to me by the sales people of the mega store, I defeatedly took one last venture through the new release and best sellers only making it to the door empty handed. My quest for “the” book was still at hand which lead me to the used bookstore.

The Book Corral in NE Grand Rapids

 There's something perfectly pungent about a used bookstore. That combination of dust, history and dated book shelves has a sort of aroma one struggles to appreciate. Through the process of yard sales, donations, trade-ins and sales, the supply of books is in enough to rationalize frequent trips - even in the event of an empty-handed trip. When all other plans are exhausted, one can never go wrong with a used bookstore.

Indeed, after a few trips, future plans quickly form with a used bookstore as a foundation. The low prices, half the list-price at worst and under a dollar at best, are usually bolstered by buy-this-many and get one free deals making shopping not only frugal but fantastic. Thus, classic works of literature can be obtained at Dutch prices, perfect for gifts or personal enjoyment. 

Though used bookstores usually separate the inventory of its books into genres for the most part, they also afford the curiosity of the disarranged surprise. Finding “The” book is like a box of Cracker Jack - a prize is found among the treats. The journey has that box of chocolates never-knowing-what-you'll-get feeling coupled with anticipation. That sought-after book cover that pulls you in and says – this is “The” book.


Visit your local used bookstore:

Argos Book Shop | 1405 Robinson Rd SE | Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Book Corral | 2460 Plainfield Ave NE | Grand Rapids, MI 49505

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