Giving Books a Second Chance at Life


Books for Thought is where I post a discussion topic related to books, reading, writing, or something related to one of the three. I hope you’ll join in, and discuss today’s topic of

Secondhand Books!

I don’t know about you guys but I LOVE secondhand books. I love the smell of them, the look of them, I love everything about them, and I buy them all the time. To express my severe and dedicated love for previously loved books, I have devised the following attributes that I find attractive in a secondhand book.

1. They’re Cheap.


Hey. This is a major plus point for secondhand books. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a student. Students are notorious for being poor. Granted, I spend all the money I have on books, but to me – there is nothing more worthy of my money. And it’s always a plus when the book I buy is only $5, instead of $20. It makes life that much better.

2. They’ve Been Loved Before.

book love

I, for one, love the fact secondhand books have been read and loved before. I love the fact that there is a story behind this book that I have no idea about. How did the previous owner get it? Did they like it? Why did they give it up, or sell it? The mystery behind secondhand books is, well, mysterious.

3. They’re Worn In.


With secondhand books, the pages are soft, the spine is bent – they’ve been worn in for me. There’s nothing more stressful for me, as a reader, than reading a book for the first time. I worry about cracking the spine (*internal screaming*), or ripping the pages (*starts hyperventilating*) , or doing anything else that may ruin the perfection that is my book. But with a secondhand book, the spine is cracked, the pages are weathered, and I have absolutely nothing to worry about. If I add another crack to the spine, that’s okay, because it has 100 others, anyway. If I mark the pages with chippy dust or salt, it’s not quite so horrific as if I had done it to a new book. The stress of reading secondhand books is all but nil.

4. They Smell Amazing.


Ah, Rory. You are so right on this account. Secondhand books, especially REALLY old ones smell divine. I love smelling book of all ages, but the antique ones smell SO GOOD. I love it. If I could bottle that smell, I totally would.

5. They Can Introduce You To New & Amazing Things!


I have discovered some of my favourite books from buying them secondhand. And if I was a secondhand book hater, then I would never have found them.

For example, the Study books by Maria V Snyder. I bought the second and third books from a massive secondhand book sale. They were in perfect condition, which was a plus. But I may not have ever knuckled down and read them if I hadn’t bought them at the sale. And they are one of my all time favourite series of books.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. I found this one at the op-shop earlier this year for something like $2. It is now one of my favourite books. I had never heard of it before seeing it in the shop, and probably never would have found it any other way, as it’s not extremely popular (even though it should be).

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. I bought two signed copies on eBay for three dollars each, because I didn’t have to pay for extra shipping, because I was already buying an item from the seller.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Bought in a bundle with the TMI books. It was only $3 in hardback, with no extra shipping – hurrah!

And HEAPS of others. Half the books I own are secondhand, and I love them a lot.


Sometimes, if my beloved secondhand book is in really bad condition, I may purchase a new copy. This gives the author more money, and gives me a perfect copy that I will probably never read, because I would be terrified of ruining it, and will always have a soft spot for my original secondhand copy.

For me, secondhand books are a way to discover new reads, save money, and give a book a second chance at life. I have always loved secondhand books, and I know I always will. They’re awesome, for the characteristics listed above, and ones that I haven’t mentioned. They are just plain made of win.


Do you like buying secondhand books? If so, why? If no, why not? What are some books that you have discovered by buying secondhand? If you really love a secondhand book, will you buy it new, as well? Let me know in the comment section below!



Posted on: December 12, 2013 • By: Chiara

28 Responses to Giving Books a Second Chance at Life

  1. rlsharpe says:

    Yes, I love secondhand books too. I don’t have heaps of money to spend on books so secondhand books really helps. There is a great Australian online second hand bookstore called BrotherHood books. ( If you buy three books shipping is free and express. They give you a condition rating too so you know what you are buying. I’ve bought heaps of books for them and have never been disappointed, plus all their money goes into helping free Australia from poverty.

  2. At the beginning of the year I bought a really old secondhand book from my favourite charity shop where I volunteered. This certain beautiful worn in blue book was Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier. I loved it without even looking at the title; the cover was enough for me to grab it and take it home with me.
    Upon reading it, I loved it even more and once I discovered I was studying it at university I couldn’t have been more pleased. But what makes me love this secondhand book SO much, is that on the very front pages is the dwindling, twiddly handwriting of probably ninety year old ink, marking the name and address of the previous owner. Being a citizen in the age of googlemaps and kindles, I headed on over to Google where I discovered the address written in the front page was a cute and quaint little country cottage in Cornwall, tucked away and looking so picturesque.
    If any writing did a pleasure to its book content, this person’s old fashioned penmanship is it.
    It’s so perfect!

    • Thank you for sharing your story with me – it was lovely!
      I forgot to mention it in this post, but I do so love discovering little pieces of writing and other tidbits within secondhand books. Especially if it’s a ‘happy birthday’ message. It always makes me wonder why the person gave up their birthday present! But then I am also kind of glad, because it means that I was able to buy the book, and own it :)
      I certainly do love the look of really old handwriting. It’s so much nicer than the way we write now!

  3. Jan says:

    Most of my books are probably new but I do love exploring second hand bookshops too. Here in Scotland we’re lucky because we have an entire booktown,, Wigtown,, filled with I think about 50 bookshops – most of which have a great selection of old and new books. Not far from that we have my personal favourite of Mill on the Fleet, a teeny but amazingly well-stocked second hand bookshop in a converted water mill with books in every conceivable nook and cranny. I got the entire Jane Austen collection in beautiful red leather volumes with gold writing on the covers for £5! Score!! :-)

  4. Ciara_H says:

    A lot of the books that I buy are second-hand, simply because they’re much cheaper. A new book could be €10 and more in some shops here in Ireland but second-hand bookshops would sell them for €4.99 max, and charity shops would sell each book for like 50 cents (and sometimes it’s even buy one get one free) so it saves me a TON of money.

    I know some people are bothered by the fact that others have read a second hand book before them, or that they want to be the very first person to read their copy of the book, but it honestly wouldn’t bother me at all. Like you, I think I’d prefer it that the pages have been flicked through before!

    Obviously there are books that I have to buy brand new as they’re only just published (like Allegiant) and I wouldn’t mind paying the full price for it, especially if I’m a fan of the author. But second-hand books can’t be beaten & I love that you can discover a new book or author and it can be really cheap. It’s definitely a win-win situation! :)

    • Saving the money is definitely one of the big upsides of secondhand books. For book lovers, we cannot control our impulsive need to buy books, and when they’re cheap – hurrah! I love 50c buys. :D

      yeah, I have heard that as a reason why people don’t like secondhand books, as well. I love knowing that someone else has experienced the story! It ads an element of mystery. I want to know what they thought of it, and when they read it.

      Oh, definitely. There are always the ones we have to buy new – that’s just the way it is :)
      Exactly! I will never stop buying secondhand books :D

  5. Number 5 is the argument that should eradicate all reservations against secondhand books! Personally, I prefer books to be new but I also value and appreciate secondhand books. Besides, books from the 80s and 90s are much more legit than newer editions. Newer editions are posers! Haha. Ok, that’s just me. But yeah, for one, it really is much easier to part with five bucks to take a chance on a book I otherwise wouldn’t. It’s also a wonderful way to discover books that aren’t available in bookstores anymore because they’re out of print.

    On a side note, I still remember buying my very first secondhand book at a flea market when I was eight. Can’t remember how often I reread it. Totally loved it as a kid, and I still have it to this day. Loads of memories attached to that one right from the moment I acquired it :’)

    • Exactly! I think that some of the best books can be found in the most unusual of ways :)
      Haha, definitely! I love the look of extremely weathered books from years ago. They have a special something, I think.
      Exactly. The money part is a huge plus. I much prefer spending $20 on several books, rather than just one.
      And finding out of print books is amazing! I have found a few relatively recently, and ones that I had been looking for for ages, too!

      That’s a lovely memory! Books are so special, and secondhand ones can be even more so :D

  6. What a wonderful post! I would love it if I could find secondhand books easily, but I can’t, so most of my books actually come from the library, which is sort of similar. I wish I could keep all the books that I read, but I would need a much larger house- or mansion, or my own library.

    • Thank you so much – I’m glad you liked it :)
      Most of my books come from the library, as well. A lot of the secondhand book stores around where I live have shut down. It’s really sad, actually. But, luckily, my library does sales quite lot, so a lot of the books I own are old library books.
      And I know what you mean! Mine is already overflowing with books, haha.

  7. heartjess says:

    You can bottle that smell and I do NOT agree with that statement. Yuck, old book smell. However, all the others = <3. Esp. the worn in part.

  8. My favorite part of second hand books is when you find little notes or pieces of paper in the pages :) I’ve found receipts for gas stations, philosophical thoughts on my Shakespeare copy, and on one copy of Death of a Salesman someone drew one of those pictures that moves when you flip the pages of a little dude skateboarding.

  9. Love this post! I buy secondhand books almost exclusively, although I occasionally can’t pass up a great Amazon or BookOutlet sale. I wish that there were more used bookstores near me! It’s been ages and ages since I’ve purchased anything on Ebay actually…have you had good luck with that when it comes to used books? I never think to look there.

    • Yay! I’m glad you like it, Miranda :D
      I would probably get far too carried away with Amazon if the shipping costs to Australia weren’t ridiculously expensive (as they are now). Maybe that’s a good thing, haha.
      I wish there were more secondhand book stores near me, too! There used to be three, but they all closed down :(
      Yeah, I’ve had pretty good luck. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of searching every so often so see if what you’re looking for is being offered for an okay price. I’ve actually gone off eBay though because three sellers never sent my items to me, and didn’t give me back my money. So I’d probably stick to trusted sites to buy books!

  10. For me, it’s all about the ‘it’s cheap’ reason, haha. I always try to find the best copies and I’ve found quite some bargains, especially in the new bookstore I discovered :D

  11. Oh I loooooove second hand books. Mostly because they’re cheaper and I’m a poor person. Oh well. I actually had a pretty similar posts not that long ago where I elabortaed on the topic more. But yeah, I mean CHEAPER.

  12. flipthatpage says:

    Oh, this is pretty new info for me! I actually have only ever bought a secondhand book once, and I bought it for my brother. While I totally agree that books should be given a second chance at life, I’m just not the type to go for used books because somehow, it never feels as if that book is totally mine because I wasn’t the first person to own it, which bothers me to no end. Also, I am extremely OC about keeping my books in mint condition, and I can RARELY find any secondhand book in that sort of state! I really love the smell of them too, though XD Anyway, thanks for sharing this post Chiara :)

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