I love used books!

I buy a lot of used books. Used bookstores are my kryptonite; I can’t go into one without buying at least five new books. Sometimes people try to tell me that buying brand new books is better than getting someone’s run-down, beat up, second-hand book, but I disagree and I’m going to tell you why.

Can you guess which ones were purchased as brand-new versus used?

        Can you guess which ones were purchased as brand-new versus used?

  • Used books hold more stories than the ones written on their pages. Think about it: who was its pervious owner? Where was it read? Has it been to more countries than you? If that book could talk, it would probably have an exciting memoir to recite.
  • Coffee stains on white pages got you down? Well, stop being so particular! If someone has stained their book it only means that they couldn’t take a five minute break from reading to eat, which has to be a good sign. If someone else couldn’t put that book down, you probably won’t either.
  • Used books are cheaper than new books! Sure, you could argue that e-books are (sometimes) even less money, and using a library card is always free, but sometimes you just need to own a particular book.
  • I might be pretty unique in liking worn out books — I make a point to destroy book spines — and many of my friends shudder when they hear me say I’d rather have tattered pages than perfect, straight ones. While most used books are old and loved, not all of them look it. A lot of used books do look brand new!
  • Sure, that new-book smell is awesome, but musty old books smell great too.
  • Getting lost in used bookstores is almost as fun as reading. They are usually organized in some way, but more often than not the shelves are stacked with more books than you could image. What’s wrong with wandering amongst shelves for an hour or so trying to find that next awesome literary adventure? Nothing.
  • If you’re lucky enough to stumble upon some super old books it feels like finding an artifact from the literary world. A lot of old books have hand-sewn spines, beautifully illustrated covers, and hold so much history! These, friends, are the real treasures of the book world.
  • Sometimes used books have notes scribbled in the margins. This is awesome, as it gives you the opportunity to see what previous readers were thinking. Did they interpret that character the same way you did? Did they pick up on some foreshadowing that you missed? These notes will get you thinking about books in ways you might never have thought of!
  • Used bookstores are usually independently owned, and need your support! Plus, owners/staff are always super knowledgeable and friendly.
  • Buying used books is also environmentally friendly. Need I say more?

“It came from City Lights…”

When people walk into my apartment one of the first things they see are my bookshelves, and one of the first things they say is, “Wow, you have a lot of books.” I guess they aren’t wrong.

Being a huge bookworm/literature nerd, I do buy a lot of books. I even have duplicates of some (they have different covers!). My bookshelves are literally full, and a lot of my books are piled on top of and in front of each other, or wherever they fit.

Everyone thinks my book collection is awesome, expect my Mum, who is constantly complaining about “all those damn books, taking up space.” Listen, Mum, they’re all piled up in my apartment, not your house, so stop it.

While my mum complains, the majority of my friends are often asking how I am able to afford all of these glorious, wonderful books; this question is usually quickly followed by, “So, can I borrow one?”

Well, my friends, the answer is simple: most of my books come from used book stores, thrift shops or garage sales. There’s no way I could ever afford to buy all my wonderful books brand-new from Chapters. As for borrowing books, that depends on whether or not you dog-ear pages, which is unforgivable.


This past weekend I visited one of my favourite used bookstores: City Lights Bookshop, located in downtown London, Ontario.

I’ve been going to City Lights with my Dad for as long as I can remember. Whenever we venture into the realm of London, we make our way downtown to get lost between the stacks of this magical, wonderful little shop.

If the teeming piles of used books don’t excite you, then their hilarious, retro decorations will. The walls are adorned with weird posters, literary quotes, action figures, comics and more. The decor is also always related to whatever section you’re in.

When you’re browsing Canadian literature, for example, you’ll see Canadian flags everywhere. The sci-fi section, on the other hand, is covered in Star Wars prints. There used to be a cardboard cut out of Captain Kirk, but he wasn’t there this time.


Every time I venture into City Lights, I leave with at least five new books. While five books would likely cost you $100+ at Chapters, at a used bookstore, you’ll likely only need $25-50, depending on the quality of the books.

The staff at City Lights are also super friendly, and more than willing to answer any questions, provide recommendations, or help you find your way through their piles of books. The shelves in this place can be intimidating, especially since they look like they will topple over at any given minute. However, the hoards of books only add to its cozy atmosphere.


The layout of the store might seem a bit confusing — some of the aisles bend and turn where you least expect them too — but this shouldn’t sway you from browsing! Just think of it as an epic adventure which will probably end with you finding more treasure than you thought you would.

If you ever find yourself in downtown London, I highly recommend stoping by City Lights Bookshop. You can find it nestled in the corner of Richmond and King Streets. In the meantime, enjoy all the awesome photos of their stacks of books!