Archive for December, 2010
Best prices for your books
Organize your home by clearing out unwanted books
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Happy New Year!
I have been thinking a lot lately about the cost of books, especially paperbacks as opposed to hardcover books. I have a feeling I am not alone on this: hardcover books are just too expensive for casual purchasing. For example, a 2008 bestselling novel The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is currently selling for $5.86 in paperback, while the hardcover copy will cost you $16.31. Is there any reason to spend the extra money? In today’s poor economy, is there any justification for doing so?
I must confess, although I have described myself as an avid reader, I am not an avid book-buyer. Most of my reads are from the library these days or borrowed from friends. The only new books added to my personal collection in recent years have been gifts. I received two books for Christmas this year, and they happen to be reference-type books that I plan to use for years to come. Let’s consider the difference between the types of books. It is true that hardcover books are made to last. The paper quality is superior and the book should hold up for years of use. Paperbacks are easily damaged and usually show wear and tear on the spine after only one reading. The pages become yellow after only a few years. Hardcover books are more aesthetically pleasing than their paperback versions. They look better sitting on the bookshelf. I have some very old hardcover books in my collection that are still strong enough to be read including some printed in the late 1800’s. I also have some paperbacks that were purchased in my childhood that are coming unbound and nearly losing their pages. These books were printed in the early 1980’s.
So, if I were purchasing a book, would I choose hardcover or paperback? I have to say, it depends on the book. Most of the time, considering my budget, I’d be buying the paperback. Knowing it would be read once, and re-read a few times over the years if I particularly liked it, a paperback would be sturdy enough to meet my needs. I don’t consider most current books to be worthy of adding to a lifelong collection and passed down to my children as heirlooms. That being said, there are some books that I would definitely spring for the extra cost to buy in hardcover edition. I own a beautiful Nonesuch Press collector’s edition of my favorite novel, Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. The leatherbound edition ranges in price from about $26 – $40. I could have purchased a cheap paperback copy for around $5, but the collector’s edition is worth every penny to me because I will read it many times. It will hold up to those multiple readings and still be beautiful, and I do want to pass it down to my children someday.
Are you still buying books? Do you like hardcovers, paperbacks or e-books? Have you sought out used copies of books in order to save money? I’d love to hear your opinions.
In the Bleak Midwinter
by Christina Rosetti (1872)
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.
Once you have sorted through your old books and sold all the ones you don’t want to BookJingle, it is the perfect time to organize your bookshelf with the books you do want to keep. A messy-looking bookshelf can make the entire room feel messy. For example, check out the above picture of my children’s bookcase. The rest of the room is neat and organized, but when children re-shelf their own books, well, you see what happens.
Here are some of my best tips for organizing an aesthetically-pleasing bookshelf to display your favorite books to best advantage:
- Hardcover books look best on an open bookshelf. In most cases, paperbacks should be relegated to a closed-door cabinet or other concealed place. I keep my paperbacks on a separate bookshelf in my closet.
- Removing brightly-colored dust jackets can give the books a more unified look. Keep the dust jackets to protect the books when you re-read them.
- Larger books should be placed on the lower shelves and smaller books on the higher shelves. Likewise, when stacking books horizontally, place the taller ones on the bottom of the stack.
- To keep your shelves from looking too boxy, add items besides just books. Photos, heirlooms, souvenirs and knick-knacks bring personality to a bookshelf and give you a great place to display beloved objects. Keep in mind that over-accessorizing your shelves will make them look messy again, so use a critical eye to determine the correct balance.
- Keep books in line with each other, but don’t worry about being too perfect. Your bookshelf display should be organized but relaxed.
- Group books by color when possible. Light-colored spines should be placed next to other light-colored spines.
- Bookshelves don’t have to be limited to only print media. DVDs and CDs can look great stacked or lined up on a shelf, or alongside your books on part of a shelf.
Have fun organizing your books! Remember, sell used books to BookJingle and get some cash to buy new books to fill out those bookshelves!
Selling used books online is a great way to clear out some space and earn some cash in the process. But what if you still have textbooks from college? You want to sell your used textbooks but aren’t sure if your old books are worth anything. Take my advice: check out BookJingle first. BookJingle will consider any college textbook, even your outdated ones. After all, you paid enough for them back in college; you might as well get some cash out of them now! In this economy, everyone is looking for ways to save money. Why not sell used books online to get that money you’re looking for?
BookJingle pays cash for books, even books you might think aren’t worth anything. Everyone has a few used travel books left over from a vacation, or some self-help or religious books you don’t use anymore. BookJingle buys these books and will even consider books that have been out of circulation for years. Don’t assume your used books are worthless. Check out www.bookjingle.com before you throw out those old books. It will only take a few seconds to enter your book’s ISBN number and receive BookJingle’s offer. Shipping your books to BookJingle couldn’t be easier. Just print the pre-paid shipping label, pack up your books and ship them. BookJingle will be sending your cash within 48 hours of receiving your books.
You might wonder, what if my old textbooks aren’t in perfect condition? Many of us had a habit of highlighting or underlining passages and making notes in the margins of our college textbooks. Well, it isn’t necessarily a problem when selling your books to BookJingle. BookJingle will accept books with writing, highlighting or underlining on less than 25% of the pages with no reduction to the original offered price. Even if your books are more marked up than this, BookJingle might offer you a reduced price for the book. As long as your book is not water-damaged, missing pages, or stained, it may be sellable to BookJingle.
BookJingle is the perfect place for book buyback and textbook buyback. Gather up your old books and check out www.bookjingle.com today!
My daughter, Kay, has now completed eighteen weeks of kindergarten. We are ready for Christmas break. I guess I should say, I am ready for Christmas break. She doesn’t really understand the concept of a break or vacation and will likely ask me, “Are we having school today?” every day for the next two weeks.
It’s time to take a step back from what we’ve been doing and evaluate how far we have come. As education experts Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer assert in their homeschooling classic The Well-Trained Mind, the main goal of kindergarten is to teach a child to read. Once reading is fluent and natural, the child can move on to all other subjects that require reading: history, social studies, literature, etc. So, approximately two-thirds of our homeschooling day has been focused on reading skills. I am asking myself now, has the phonics method we’re using been effective? How far has Kay come in eighteen weeks? Is my homeschooling approach fostering a love for reading in my daughter’s heart? I want more than anything for her to read well and love it, as I do.
When we began the school year in August, Kay could recite and write the alphabet and spell her first name. That was all she could spell. Now, she knows the sounds of every letter in the alphabet. She can spell her entire name, and she can spell almost any word with three to four sounds (i.e., “cat,” “dad,” “mint,” “stop”). Kay can read beginning readers independently (as in this text from Tip and Mitten, “Janet, I have this for Tip. It is not a ball. Is it a dish? Is it a dish for Tip?”), and she can read intermediate readers with assistance. She can sound out words with high accuracy and has mastered simple punctuation. (“This sentence needs an exclamation point because we are excited!”) But something is still missing. I must be honest with myself here, because I don’t like to admit that this picture isn’t as perfect as it seems. What is absent from Kay’s reading progress? Whatever it is that transforms a fledgling reader into a natural, spontaneous one.
For example, we are away from the school table, putting lunch together in the kitchen. Kay is holding a package of cheese and inquires, “What kind of cheese is this?” I point at the bold blue word in the middle of the package that reads, “SWISS.” She squirms uncomfortably and says nothing. “Read that word,” I say. “It tells you what kind of cheese it is.” Squirming again, she mutters, “I don’t want to.” I am baffled. “Swiss” is a very simple word. All the letters follow their basic phonics rules. There is nothing complicated or intimidating about the word “Swiss” and there is no reason for Kay to avoid reading it. Finally, unwilling to let the matter drop, I force her to look at the package and slowly sound out each letter. “Ssss – wuh – ih – sss.” She blends the sounds effortlessly and there is her triumphant smile. “Oh, it’s Swiss cheese!” She grabs a piece and cheerfully skips out of the kitchen, but I am troubled.
This isn’t an isolated incidence by any means. Several times a week, we have these confrontations. Were we seated at the school table doing a phonics lesson, she would read these words without prompting and without assistance, but somehow, Kay has developed the idea that reading is for school and only school, and she doesn’t want to be bothered with the effort during her down time.
How concerned should I be? At what point does a child transfer the reading skills into everyday, basic knowledge? When does reading become second nature instead of noticeable effort? I wish I could answer these questions, but my homeschooling journey hasn’t led me that far yet. Perhaps by the end of our second eighteen weeks, we will have crossed that bridge fully. After all, before one becomes a lover of books, reading must become an instinct, a natural reaction to the sight of words. At this moment, to me, the process seems a total mystery.
December 19 marks the anniversary of the death of Emily Bronte, the Victorian author of the English classic novel Wuthering Heights. In honor of Emily’s death, I want to pay homage to her and her sisters, the Brontes, as they are known among fans of English literature.
Although there were three Bronte sisters, Emily, Anne and Charlotte, there are only a handful of well-known novels bearing their authorship. Wuthering Heights, Emily’s sole novel, was published in 1847, when she was 29 years old. Sadly, Emily died the following year. Shocking, isn’t it, to think of this woman whose immense talent created such a complex and enduring novel, dying of tuberculosis when her literary career was just blossoming? All of the sisters died of tuberculosis at tragically young ages. Charlotte authored the classic novel Jane Eyre along with three other, less well-known works, and she died in 1855 at the age of 38. Anne published The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Agnes Grey, considered to be literary classics but without the popular following of her sisters’ books. She died in 1849 at the age of 29. Imagine if these women had survived to an age which would be typical in our day. Imagine how much literature they could have produced in those years, had their lives not been cut so dramatically short.
The Brontes themselves have an air of tragedy and romance about them which, I believe, contributes greatly to the lasting interest in their work. Their home in Yorkshire has become the Bronte Parsonage Museum. Readers are not merely interested in the gothic novels produced by the sisters, but equally in the gothic lives and deaths of the sisters themselves. I love to think of these sisters, publishing initially under pseudonyms these novels which sparked outrageous controversy over their passionate characters and devious plots.
I’m planning to revisit the Brontes quite soon. Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre are calling my name. In honor of Emily, I think I’ll start with Wuthering Heights. Catherine, the quintessential tragic heroine, draws me into the electric quality of the story: “My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods; time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath – a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind – not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.” Ahhh, Catherine and Heathcliff, here I come.
In My Opinion…
Book Review of The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, Candlewick Press edition
I have previously reviewed the Candlewick Press edition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol illustrated by P.J. Lynch. Fortunately, Lynch has illustrated another Christmas classic also published by Candlewick Press: O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi.” I had never before read this short story until my favorable experience with A Christmas Carol led me to it.
“The Gift of the Magi” is a very familiar story even to those who haven’t read it as it has been emulated many times in popular movies and programs. It is a simple story about Della and Jim, a young married couple with little money but very rich in love. Della wants to buy a special Christmas gift for Jim, but as she has only $1.87 to her name, she must think resourcefully to purchase the gift. Likewise, Jim wants to give Della a spectacular gift. These two make personal sacrifices of the highest order for the sake of their love. Just in case you don’t know the story, I won’t spoil it here. Let this passage summarize the outcome. “And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest.” The story is simple and short, but it has an unforgettable message and is beautifully crafted, a joy to read.
P.J. Lynch’s illustrations are superb and truly bring the story to life. With amazing detail, these pictures impart so much emotion in the characters’ faces. I can’t help but linger over each one as I read the book, slowly savoring the artful way this edition of the story is constructed.
“The Gift of the Magi” is a valuable Christmas read. Of course, the story is available in numerous anthologies, but I would say it’s worth it to spend a little extra and buy the individual story in the Candlewick Press edition. Because it is so short, it can easily be read in one sitting, and it would be quite appropriate to read aloud to children, as the illustrations make it like a storybook. I have discovered that Lynch has illustrated other Christmas books, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey and The Snow Queen, as well as some fairy tale books. You can bet I will be tracking these down for my children to enjoy.
Time for me to rant a little bit about the process of re-selling used stuff. I am all for re-selling possessions because it’s good all around; it’s good for the planet (going green is always good!), it’s good for the people buying your things at reduced cost, and it’s good for your wallet. But nonetheless, the process can sometimes be very frustrating, as I will demonstrate in the following story, which is 100% true and really happened to me last weekend. I decided to bring some of my kids’ old clothes to a consignment store for re-sale. We could use the extra cash for Christmas, and we could really use the space in our crowded attic. I spent at least an hour sorting through the clothes, folding and sorting them in a plastic crate. I drove 25 minutes to the consignment store, lugged the crate inside, and waited about 10 minutes to fill out the necessary paperwork in order to have the store review my items for purchase. I was advised to return in two hours to receive their offer. So, for the next two hours, my family drove around in extremely heavy rain and bad traffic, spending most of the time stuck at red lights and trying to turn at busy intersections. We were all wearing coats, getting hot and irritable with the sound of Christmas music mingling with the baby screeching and the kids whining. We decided to shop at Target and subsequently got trapped in the parking lot, and I mean literally trapped. Traffic was so heavy that we could not leave the lot. After sitting in the snack area at Target for about an hour, I began to worry that we might not make it back to the consignment store before it closed. The paperwork I signed stipulated that if you don’t return to pick up your items before the store closes, all the items will be donated to charity. So, we hopped in the car and braved the traffic and rain again, finally pulling into the consignment store parking lot ten minutes before closing time. I ran inside, gave them my name, and waited. Finally, I received my offer, and boy was I surprised. For a large crate absolutely crammed with children’s clothing, many of them name-brand items, I was offered $2.25. I am not kidding. Needless to say, I lugged my heavy crate back to the car, shoved it in, and drove my family home in a great huff.
That was a pretty bad day, made so by a terrible experience with consignment. Never again will I try such a thing. I would rather donate the items to a worthy charity than waste my time and effort on such shenanigans. You know what I said to my husband as we drove away? “I wish there was a ClothesJingle.com!”
See, this terrible experience would never happen to me when it comes to books. I know better than to try the book-buying process at used book stores. It would be very similar to what I have outlined above. I have no desire to waste an entire day sorting through books, packing them in a box, hauling them to the closest book-buying store, handing them over and waiting forever to receive an offer. When you finally get your offer, it is always shockingly low, and since all the books are lumped together, you have no idea how much money you’re actually getting for each book. Knowing this would make re-selling books a giant waste of time, but alas, there is a silver lining to this cloud. It is www.bookjingle.com! This, folks, is how selling used books is done, and done right.
There’s no need to go anywhere to do business with BookJingle. From the comfort of home, any time of day or night, you can sell books online. Gather up the books you want to sell, and enter the ISBN numbers on www.bookjingle.com. You get your quote instantly, and you know you’re getting the best offer because that’s how BookJingle does business. Print your shipping label; it won’t cost you a penny to ship those books. Pack up your books, ship the box to BookJingle, and you’ll be getting your money within 48 hours of when the books arrive. How easy is that? Selling books online is the way to go, and BookJingle makes it so easy and safe!
Yes, I wish there was a ClothesJingle. I am now stuck with my crates full of kids’ clothes, taking up valuable space in my attic. Maybe I should take the clothes to Goodwill and check out my old books instead. I know where I can sell them without getting a headache!
A Book Review of A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd
Like the hoards of other people who faithfully watch it on television every Christmas, I love the movie A Christmas Story, based on the writings of Jean Shepherd. A few years ago, I decided to investigate Shepherd’s books, curious about his writing and how closely tied it was to the film. Now this is a little bit complicated: the movie’s story was taken from Shepherd’s books In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters, but subsequent to the great television success of the movie A Christmas Story, excerpts from these books relating to the movie were published in a new volume, titled appropriately A Christmas Story.
I have read Shepherd’s other books, and his sense of humor is really addictive. I have seen the movie hundreds of times, literally. (It’s my husband’s favorite movie, and we watch it constantly during the Christmas season.) Knowing the movie so well, it is natural to read the book and picture Peter Billingsley, the boy who played Ralphie, and hear Jean Shepherd’s own voice narrating the text, as he narrated the film. Many parts of the movie were drawn word for word from the text. There are also many differences, mostly subtle, between the movie version and Shepherd’s writings. For example, in the movie, the neighbor’s dogs break into the house and devour the Christmas turkey, thus ruining the family’s holiday feast. In the book, this happened at Easter, and it was a ham instead of a turkey. But the feeling of the book is very well translated into the film; the two are quite compatible in style.
If you like to watch A Christmas Story around the holidays, you would enjoy this book. Not only is it enjoyable to find Shepherd’s original passages as they were prior to the making of the film, there is also a multitude of comic gems within the text that never made it to the screen. This is why I enjoyed Shepherd’s original books. There is so much about Shepherd that remains to be discovered after watching the movie. He is a true dry comic, a rare author who can combine humor with genuinely touching sentimentality. Shepherd’s picture of America is one that we can laugh at and cry over because we see our own reflection there.