Birmingham’s Best Finds for Booklovers

Selfishly, I almost hate to share these first two finds because I realize it could just mean more competition for the best titles. But if I’m stuck on self-help while you’re reading fiction, we can both have all the books we can read, which isn’t saying much since we’re busy with kids.

Hoover Public Library Friends Bookstore

Enjoy yard sale prices on a great assortment of books that is constantly changing. Hardbacks are $2, trade paperbacks $1, and regular paperbacks/children’s books are 50 cents. Fifty cents! Where can you buy anything for less than a buck?

If you have a student, this is the first place to look for last years’ required reading. I’ve  found some treasures here, from a first edition Billy Baldwin’s Guide to Decorating to current bestsellers.

An honorable mention is the Homewood Library’s Friends Bookstore. Each book is priced individually, so you may not get out for two bucks, but it’s still a bargain.

Homewood Library benefits from some local editors and professional critics who donate their advanced reader copies to the bookstore. Catch these editions and you, too can be ahead of the NYT bestseller list. Advance reader copies cannot be sold or exchanged through other venues (and are clearly marked), but let’s keep recycling them through the Friends’ bookstore and benefit the library.

FREE book bins at 2nd and Charles

Pass by 2nd and Charles anytime and you’ll see the upturned fannies of people digging through the free book bins. If you’re a browser, meaning you’re not sure what you want to read until you find it, then get your fanny over for a look next time you’re at the Galleria.

You might say some things in these bins aren’t even worth “free” – old instruction manuals, user guides, and National Geographic issues (why is every National Geographic Society member seized with the idea that he should keep each issue?). There are also musty old basement books and almanacs from 1997.

At the same time, the fun is in the randomness of what you can find. Because 2nd and Charles doesn’t accept books with markings or highlights, I’ve found the occasional cast-off new book that already has a history, inscribed with “Here’s hoping you have a wonderful life together”…and wondered, was it the book or the wedding that went bust?

Particularly if you’re looking for books as objects – say, to fill shelf space or elevate a lamp – this is a good source. It’s definitely hit or miss, but money says you’ll find a John Grisham or Danielle Steele paperback most anytime.

PaperbackSwap.com (previous find)

PaperbackSwap.com is especially good for turning all those Scholastic books you order from the kids’ school into credits for your own reading. Most kids’ books are lightweight so they are inexpensive to mail.

Plus, PaperbackSwap.com includes the cheap thrill of getting something in the mail, which never gets old.

Note: Ironically, one of the first books I ever requested through PBS wound up being posted from a reader in Bluff Park.