Hello, friends! I've taken the bookshop page offline temporarily as I make some updates. It will be back up by this time next week. Meanwhile, feel free to get in touch with me if you're looking for something special.
A friend of mine sent out an urgent plea a
couple weeks ago, seeking ideas to help handle her “predicament” of finding at
least a book a day that she wants to read.
Most serious readers, I imagine, are well
acquainted with the “books to be read” dilemma. Acquaintances suggest titles,
you see an intriguing review, a particular book is the current thing, one book leads to another…half-dozen. It takes
very little time to build a sizeable stack of books to read next, and in just a
couple minutes more it can become an unmanageable mess.
Let’s make one thing clear, right from the
start. Wanting to read lots of books is not
a bad thing. Collecting lots of books is not
a bad thing, either, as long as you aren’t spending the rent or grocery money
on them. But, alas, budgets and bookshelves and time for reading do have
limits. Today, I’ll share a few things I’ve learned about managing the budget.
The first aspect that comes into play is
deciding which books you should actually purchase. It’s not a good feeling to
realize that a book you bought on impulse was not worth the $12.99 you spent on
it - maybe it’s not well-written, not what you thought it was going to be, or
just not your style. But now that you’ve read it, handled it, spilled a drop of
coffee on it, you can’t return it.
My personal protocol is to read before
buying, if at all possible. There are very few circumstances in which I’ll spend
money for a book I haven’t pre-read: it’s a rare or somehow special edition;
it’s written by an author whose work I’ve read extensively enough to know that
I’ll enjoy it; or it was recommended to me by a friend who knows me and what I
like to read very well. Most of the time, though, when I’m thinking about
acquiring a book I don’t know much about, I either check it out from the
library or borrow it from a friend. If I absolutely can’t find a way to read it
for free first, I’ll buy the cheapest readable copy at Half Price Books,
knowing I can invest in a nicer edition later if I want.
Once having made the decision that a book
does, in fact, belong in your home or office library, you’ll want to get it at
the most reasonable price you can find. Amazon generally offers good deals, but
don’t neglect looking at other outlets as well: Christian Book Distributors has
astonishingly low clearance prices on occasion, and Abe Books can be a good
source for harder-to-find titles. For me, personally, nothing beats a good
second-hand book shop. Even ordinary thrift shops, junk stores, and library
sales may yield good finds, and ebay.com and estate sales can be a gold mine.
Note: You do have to be careful with ebay,
Abe Books, and Amazon third-party sellers. Not everyone who is selling books knows
anything about them. For instance, I’ve discovered that “first edition” is
applied pretty haphazardly – it might mean “first Paraguayan edition” or “first
edition in paperback” or “first book club edition” or “first edition with these
particular illustrations.” Another thing to investigate carefully is “signed,”
as it could be signed by the illustrator or editor or publisher’s spokesperson,
rather than the author. Acquaint yourself with the terms of the book trade, and
always, always, read the product description
One more thing that I’ve found to be important
is knowing what I already have. With well over a thousand books in my house, I
sometimes lose track and buy an unintentional duplicate. I’ve come up with two
ways to combat this problem. One is keeping lists of what I have and what I
want to read and what I’ve decided to purchase. (Several hundred books ago, I
actually carried around paper lists in my purse; goodreads.com is a much better
option for me now.) The other is taking shelfies before I head out to the
bookstore, especially if I’m collecting a series or all the works of one
Of course, even though you’re being
deliberate about your purchasing decisions, you will, at some point, find
yourself wondering, “Where am I going to put
all these books?” I’ll take a look at the shelf space issue next time. Until
then, happy reading!
I'll be heading out on Thursday morning for the C.S. Lewis Foundation Fall Retreat in Navasota, Texas, with more books to sell than ever before. Because my inventory will be in a state of flux for these next few days, I've taken the bookshop page offline temporarily. I plan to have it updated and running again by November 7.
Meantime, if you're looking for a particular book, don't hesitate to get in touch with me. Thanks for your patience.
|October 30 – November
1 C.S. Lewis Retreat 2015
Allen, Navasota, Texas
more and register at
I’ve been gathering
books specifically to sell at the retreat for some months now, and have amassed
an inventory I’m really excited about.
Of course, I’ll be
stocking classic titles by C.S. Lewis, as well as a number of well-known
biographies and secondary works about Jack and his writings. A few titles by
and about other Inklings, influencers, and friends – J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles
Williams, George MacDonald, Dorothy L. Sayers – will also be available.
In addition, I’ll be
offering a number of new works of Lewis scholarship which have recently been
released. Several of the retreat speakers and breakout session leaders have
published books this year, which will be featured in the bookstore: The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis
by Jerry Root and Mark Neal, Discussing
Mere Christianity by Devin Brown, Joy
by Abigail Santamaria, and 75
Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know by Terry Glaspey. Earlier works by
some of these authors will also be available.
offer books by other retreat speakers past and present, and other friends of
the C.S. Lewis Foundation, including Lael Arrington, Kevin Belmonte, Bruce
Edwards, Diana Glyer, Malcolm Guite, Andrew Lazo, and Charlie Starr.
As in previous years,
the bookstore will also carry poetry, memoirs, literary anthologies, and books
on the writing process and the power of story.
Finally, this year for
the first time I am bringing in a small selection of used books, ranging from
bargain bin finds to collectible editions.
If you’d like me to
reserve a copy of a certain book for you, or if there’s a title you’d like me
to try to find for you, please contact me at Becka@booksbybecka.com
Hoping to see you
It's almost time once again for the C.S. Lewis Foundation's annual southwest regional retreat - a gathering of readers, writers, scholars, and artists who have been inspired by and/or want to learn more about the works of C.S. Lewis and the Inklings.
Retreat attendees will have the opportunity to hear excellent speakers, participate in a variety of breakout sessions, take in singer/songwriter and dance performances, spend time exploring the lovely wooded grounds of Camp Allen, relax at the end of the day at the Bag End Cafe - a sort of open mic/afterglow gathering - attend Sunday morning worship, (and purchase books).
In addition to the planned activities, a vital part of the retreat experience is the fellowship that springs up naturally when kindred spirits meet. Lifelong friendships have begun during these three-day weekends, and the understanding and encouragement given and received have changed lives. My vague daydream of a book shop grew into a believable goal through the enthusiastic support of a few people I shared it with at the 2011 retreat, and Books by Becka was born at Camp Allen in 2012.
And so, I invite and encourage you to come and join us in the piney woods October 30 - November 1. I'd love to meet you there.