Saturday, August 20, 2011

Garage Sale Saturday

Garage Sale Saturday is my favorite day of the week. My whole family gets up early, piles into our mini-van, and scopes out the streets for deals. We are a family of bargain hunters and if there's one thing I can't pass up, it's a cheap book. I thought it would be interesting to find out just how big of a bargain book fiend I am! Each week, I'll write where I got each book, how much it costs, and how much I saved from the original cover price by buying it from not a book store.

This week I bought:

Library Book Store-- all proceeds go to help fund the local library
  • The Book of Great Books: A Guide to 100 World Classics by W. John Campbell
    Cover Price: $9.95 Paid: $3.50 Savings: 65%

  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (International Collectors Library Edition)
    Amazon Price: $1.34 to $200 Paid: $3 Savings: Either none or a lot

  • Treasury of World Masterpieces: Jane Austen (contains four novels)
    Amazon Price: $1.15 to $60 Paid: $3.50 Savings: Either none or a lot

  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
    Amazon Price: $2.50 to $46 Paid: $2 Savings: At least 20%

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Reader's Digest Edition)
    Ebay Price: $24.95 Paid: $2 Savings: 92%

  • Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (Reader's Digest Edition)
    Amazon Price: $3.55 to $35 Paid: $2 Savings: 44%

  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (Reader's Digest Edition)
    Amazon Price: $4 to $35 Paid: $2 Savings: 50%

  • The Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London (Reader's Digest Edition)
    Amazon Price: $16.35 Paid: $2 Savings: 87%

    Notes: I bought all of these because there all really old looking with amazing looking spines- think Beast's library pretty. I one day want a library in my own house and these would look awesome behind a huge mahogany desk. You know what I'm talking about.

Barnes & Noble Online--
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
    Cover Price: $10.99 Paid: $5.84 Savings: 47%

  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
    Cover Price: $17.99 Paid: $9.56 Savings: 47%

  • Pretty Little Liars (Box Set 1-4) by Sara Shepard
    Cover Price: $29.99 Paid: $17.04 Savings: 43%

    Notes: There was a special one day only 50% off the top 200 YA novels (I know! I was freaking out too!!) And I was deciding on the PLL box set because I wanted to get as a gift for my mom (but she did just buy the first one at the Border's going-out-of-business sale) yet this was totally cheaper than finding the other three separately. So I was a little torn, so I waited. And then I missed the sale because of time zone differences- apparently west coast has to go by east coast :( - and I lost the deals. But looking at the savings, it was still pretty close and these are books I've wanted for awhile, plus one's a gift, so I ended up talking myself into it. It's not hard to talk myself into buying books.
American Cancer Society Discovery Shop-- all proceeds go to the fight against cancer
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling
    Cover Price: $19.95 Paid: $3 Savings: 85%

  • The Oxford Book of Short Stories by V. S. Pritchett
    Amazon Price: $2 Paid: $3 Savings: none :(

  • The Unabridged Mark Twain
    Amazon Price: $10 Paid: $3 Savings: 70%

    Notes: I needed a new Harry Potter. The first book is falling apart. I've approximated I've read it 16 times, so... I probably should have a second copy on hand. The other were just super awesome and are being added to my "shelf of really awesome looking books."

Aren't they beautiful? B&N order didn't come in yet, so only my other purchases are there!

Total spent: $61.44 (too much--believe me this is a big week!)

Best Deal: Possibly.... Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sloppy Firsts: Ten Years of Love

I stumbled across Sloppy Firsts in a thrift store. It's how I normally pick up my books, so buying this slightly tattered bright green paperback was nothing out of the ordinary as I handed over my precious $1.50. However, I was wrong.

Below I give you the essay I wrote just this year for my personal narrative class on why Sloppy Firsts and the rest of the Jessica Darling series has been the most impacting and my all time favorite book series ever.

It’s silly really how much I have shaped my life around a fictional character, but from the moment I first opened the pages of Sloppy Firsts, I knew I had found my best fictitious friend. We had multiple similarities that were apparent from the beginning. We both ran track and cross country in high school. We both lived in cities that could easily tie for the most boring places in existence. We both were model students, acquiring an abundance of academic accolades at our respective institutions of information. We also both had a penchant for falling for guys that were gay.

It started out simply. I read the first book in the series my sophomore year of high school, the same year the book took place for Jessica Darling. I bonded instantly to her sarcastic and witty prose, her cultural references that peppered her diary entries, and the way she observed, analyzed, then ripped apart every character that came across her path. I related to her, yet I also wanted to be her. Since then my life has followed a similar course to her own. And as she has grown in the series, I have grown with her.

I have always been attracted to psychology. As far back as I can remember, I have always been the peacemaker to my parents’ problems, therapist to teenage troubles, advisor on angst, counselor during crisis. I have always agonized over the minutia of not only my life, but everyone else’s, spending much of my time in my own head analyzing everything to the point where I end up in circles. Jessica is the one who put these feelings on my future down on paper perfectly—“If I was going to analyze and obsess endlessly anyway, I might as well get paid for it.” It was then I decided I would major in psychology and one day become a psychologist, hoping to focus on developmental psychology and counseling teenagers. Of course, I wanted to go to Colombia like Jessica. I even applied, hoping beyond all hope I could follow my fictional favorite to the university of our dreams, but I didn’t get in. No matter, I still had the books and my hard drive of documents and music named after Marcus.

Now, I look back on my choice of major with trepidation. Through all of my three years in college, I knew UCSD was not providing me with what I really wanted out of my major. I wanted to learn how to be able to talk to somebody when they were having problems, give them true answers and not simply give them whatever I could come up with in the moment. I wanted to be able to be confident in what I told people when they came to talk to me. Instead, I can tell you what construct validity is and the sympathetic nervous system’s response to anger and about a million different studies involving rhesus monkeys (or were they all the same study just mentioned too many times in too many different classes?). I can sit down to a multiple choice test, regurgitate information I only read yesterday, and ace it. And although I have more knowledge about how people work, I still do not feel like I could talk to someone about their issues properly.

In the fictional world, Jessica was going through a similar crisis. In financial ruin and taking on incredible amounts of units to graduate early from Colombia, she realized she had no idea what she wanted to do, or even could do, with her psychology degree. And honestly, what can you do these days with a degree that’s not engineering, biology, chemistry, or biochemengineering?

In the midst of our college calamities, we both turned to what we realize we had loved all along—writing. Jessica graduated and found an internship at a unique, hip magazine that resulted in her quitting when her boss called a group meeting to hear a lecture on sex toys and practice fellatio on dildoes suction cupped to the conference table. But eventually, Jessica found herself as part of a non-profit organization founded by her friend which helps high school students realize their importance and significance in life by simply listening and recording their stories. She travelled all across the country, going from school to school, listening to teenagers tell their life stories and describe what it’s like to be them, letting them be heard.

After realizing how much I truly did love reading and writing in my playwriting class, I picked up my minor in writing last year as an outlet, something to exercise my creativity and imagination, something to prevent me from killing myself in same old, same old psychology classes I was growing weary of. It started as simply that—an outlet. However, writing took on a whole new place in my life. Though I blog and have written a fiction piece here and there for fun, writing never seemed to be the must-have for me that it seemed to be for others I knew who wrote. Yet that has changed as I have started taking more and more writing classes and less and less psychology classes, as I have started pursuing a copyediting certificate from UCSD Extension, as I have researched different graduate school programs for writing and publishing, as I have applied and been accepted as a writer for UCSD's newspaper, The Guardian (Jessica also wrote for her school paper).

I have come to understand that writing has always been a major part of my life, though in times it has taken a backseat in my conscious. I have always created stories in my head, living my life in imagination, and am just now recognizing that they all need to be written down… quick before I lose them. And it’s not just my stories that matter to me—it’s the stories of others. I love listening to what people have to tell me about their lives, where they have come from and how that is shaped them to be who they are at that very moment. I think it’s the psychologist still in me. But that simply goes right back to my fictitious best friend—I love that Jessica ended up where she did in her career. As a lover of a good story and a psychology enthusiast with a passion for teenagers—and most importantly their stories—I feel like Jessica ultimately has my dream career. After years, not only am I still like her, I still want to be her.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Oh My Bookstore: Powell's Bookstore

Powell's City of Books Bookstore
1005 W Burnside
Portland, Oregon

"The alternative America of Portland is epitomised by the presence of Powell's City of Books, a must-see for anyone with even a passing interest in reading. I could have got lost in there for couple of days were it not for the jetlag and pressing itinerary. Powell's stocks a myriad of second-hand books, some rare, some not-so rare, and is so big it takes up a block of its own. If you do love books and you go to Portland, to miss Powell's would be nothing short of criminal." —Aled Blake, South Wales Echo (from Powell's website)

I heard about Powell's through my trip to the Strand. When I came back and told people I had been there, everyone said "Oh, well, you have to try Powell's! It's like the West Coast version of the Strand." My ears perked up, my nose caught the scent of books I haven't acquired, and Powell's became number one on my list of Places I Need To Go This Very Minute.
See, I love the Strand. Seriously. While I was there, I had butterflies. I'm not kidding. I was light headed and nervous. I was... unconditionally and irrevocably in love with this place.
So when someone told me Powell's was my coast's equivalent, I didn't know what could be better. I didn't have to move 3000 miles to be close to the only place I ever wanted to be with. I only needed to travel 7 hours from my home to get there. That's an easy weekend trip!

However, when I got there, it was very... un-Strand-ish. The best part of the Strand was all around the front of the store are shelves and shelves and shelves of dollar books. Powell's didn't really have anything like that. Some sections had a few shelves dedicated to discounted books and all used books had at least a few dollars off, but for the most part, books were full price there. I do not plan to go to a used book store in order to pay full price for a new book? I want dog-earred, annotated books, books with a history. Instead I was surrounded by too much newness for a bookstore of that size.

No doubt Powell's is quite amazing. The main bookstore is numerous split-levels and stories with tons of different rooms, colorized and coordinated to house different types of books and takes up an entire city block. There are maps you need to get in order to navigate. And that's just one of it's stores. Of course I just loved being around all the books and bibliophiles there. You could tell they were people who cared as much as I did. And honestly, I didn't get a full idea of the inside of the Strand, so I cannot compare, but Powell's has such a wide selection of books. If you're looking for something, they are bound to have it. I even browsed the graphic novel and comic book section- a side effect of Comic-con- and found things I never even knew existed and seemed totally amazing. They also have this monthly subscription you can pay for where you are sent a special book, usually signed by the author and first edition; another book similar to the featured book, also usually signed or special edition; and something special from the bookstore or city that fits with the theme for the month, local chocolates or coffee, Powell's souvenirs, etc. It's pretty cool, but expensive.

Of course I spent most of my time with my mom browsing the YA section, which was huge, huge, huge. My favorite part was that they would set-up the end caps to have similar books with little explanations and reviews by them. For example, they had a display of YA dystopian novels with a sheet explaining the kind of world it's set in, including The Hunger Games. It was in this section that I ended up racking up everything that would cost me some pretty pennies. I bought The Hunger Games trilogy box set, two original versions of the first two Vampire Diaries series (they were really cool!), a Luxe book for my mom, some gifts for friends (mustache mints and mustache socks!), a Powell's tee, and a Powell's shot glass. There were probably some other little things too. I just got some birthday money so I totally freaking went for it!

I really liked spending time in Portland in general, although it wasn't long. I got an instant attraction to the city, like I did in Boston, and hopefully I'll be able to go back soon!

Bookstore Rating: 4