When it comes to buying books, I love a charity shop. I love looking through used pages and finding pages with old fold marks, fumbling upon reader’s notes, perhaps the previous own has left a book park within the pages… Not only do second-hand book invoke an extreme sense of nostalgia within me, but they are so much cheaper than buying brand new texts from Waterstones, Amazon or some independent bookshops. 

It also makes me feel like I am doing my bit for society by shopping in charity shops. Oxfam books stores are by far my favourite because they are completely dedicated to selling books, so, therefore, have a great selection of poetry, prose and plays for me to pick from. 

One of the most hard-hitting things about being in lockdown and finishing my degree is that I now have all the spare time I’ve been dreaming about, and yet I cannot buy all the cheap books I want at my favourite charity shops because I have to stay at home. Therefore, I have resorted to shopping online for my latest reading material. 

Usually, I only buy books online when the texts are required for my course. This is because my modules often require specific editions or are hard to find in charity shops. Another reason why I would use online retailers such as Abe books or Amazon is when I want to get a book that is trending and becoming increasingly popular. Recently, this has happened with Normal People by Sally Rooney and We that Are Young by Preti Taneja, I just don’t want to miss out!

Lockdown has meant that I have had to abandon my trusty charity shops and order the odd book online. Yes, they arrive in pristine condition, and have no coffee or tea stains on the side, but they don’t have the character to them that second-hand books do. I miss looking through the multi-coloured spines, full of familiar classics, classy autobiographies and stylish short story collections. I miss running my finger along the shelf of books, pausing when I see something that catches my eye. I also miss making small talk with the shop assistants who ask me about my day. Charity books shops are full of irreplaceable character. I miss it a lot.

Even though I don’t shop in flashy bookstores such as Waterstones often, when I do find myself in their stores, I often have to buy a couple of bits. The Waterstones on UEA campus never disappoints and always has a lovely collection of cards. More often than not, the shop displays lead me away from the books, and suddenly I find myself buying notebooks, coffee cups and bookmarks.

Bookstores are full of character and give me a sense of belonging. I can easily get lost for hours looking for the perfect page-turning novel or a collection of short stories to make me cry. As an English Literature student, I find so much joy in reading and buying good literature. I am looking forward to seeing (and buying) all the books people donate after spring cleaning during lockdown, I bet I’ll find some bargains. So, although bookshops are where I’m happiest, online shopping will have to do for now.


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