I Love Book Thrifting (and You Can Too)

I Love Book Thrifting (and You Can Too)

I took a book census the other day, and, out of the 100 or so books I have out on my shelves and around my room, forty of those are secondhand. I love buying used books, mainly for budget reasons, but it’s also fun to give new life and a new home to overlooked copies that are still quite readable. 😉

I’ve bought many of my books used on Amazon, through a Christian fiction Facebook group (recent discovery!), and even through store credit at a used bookstore, but nothing beats the thrill of a thrift store book hunt. 😀

I got to go thrift shopping for books the other day, and my very patient family let me take as much time as I wanted. 😀 I documented the trip, so this post is half you-can-do-this-too tips and half look-what-i-found crowing. 😉


Just part of my thrift store’s HUGE book section.

Step #1: Look at everything everywhere.

At least with my local thrift store, the book section isn’t organized, so cookbooks and novels, children’s books and classics, hardbacks and non-fiction are mixed together. I try to at least glance over every shelf just to ensure I’m not missing any treasures.


Tip: If you have a lot of hair like I do, put it up because it’s gonna get really messy from the rigors of bookshelf browsing. I forget this every. single. time. 😛

A prime example of this is how I often neglect the top shelf because of my height but also that’s where they tend to put the mass market pulp fiction I’m not usually interested in. But this time, I followed my own advice and looked at everything and saw…


A copy of Jane Austen’s Emma! So yeah, really do look at everything. Unless time is limited. 😉

Step #2: Pull first, ask questions later.

If a book looks even remotely interesting, pull it off the shelf. There will be time afterward to look at each book more closely. I pull by author name (“I think I recognize them?”), hype (“Oh, everyone on Goodreads was talking about this!”), and general interestingness of cover and synopsis (“Oooo, shiny!”).


Tip: Get a cart. I also always forget this.

When I went on this shopping trip with this post in mind, I had no idea I would find so many books! A cart from the start would have been really helpful, but I didn’t expect to need one so I walked around looking like a crazy person for a while. 😉 The stack eventually got too tall for me to carry, so I left it on the floor near me while I finished looking at all the shelves.


Yes, that is thirty books. Yes, I am crazy.

When I got in a predicament over how to carry them all over to my family’s cart, a kind stranger–a soft-spoken veteran–volunteered to carry the towering stack over to it for me. He was even gonna carry it to the front of the store where the registers were if I needed it. He was pretty cool. 😉 ❤

Step #3: Cull through your stack.

Find a nice place (like maybe a cart?? If you got one…) to sort through your books. I chose a nearby coffee table and stacked my haul on it, then started looking at them more closely.


So many books!

My first step in vetting a book is to look it up on Goodreads and read friends’ reviews. I suggest having a charged, portable device on hand for this part. 😉 Many of my friends have the same reading tastes and content concerns I do, so this always helps me get a good idea about whether or not I will enjoy a book. 😉


One of the books I looked up. ^^

After this step, I look at the book’s condition and see if it’s worth bringing home. I didn’t do a good job of this with one I bought last month, and I recently discovered it is both written in and smells strongly of perfume, so I have a lot of work to do on it before it can go on my shelves. 😦 If there are multiple copies of something, I suggest grabbing both so you can compare them and choose the one that is in better condition.


The Hunger Games is so popular, I don’t think these were even the only two copies! XD

Sometimes I’ll see a book that looks really interesting, but I’m not sure I’m ready to own it yet and would rather try it from the library. If it’s not on my Goodreads to-read list, I’ll add it there so I won’t forget it, then say a temporary goodbye to its loveliness.


*needs another library trip*

After this, I check my interest in a book, check how much I’m willing to spend, and fight with myself over whether or not I need a hardback copy of a book I already own… This is the stack of books I left behind and reshelved with the help of a younger sister. 😉


Goodbye beautiful copy of Matched!

And this is the stack I decided to buy…


At the last minute, I reshelved the George Muller biography for budget reasons. 😉

Woodlawn by Todd Gerelds is a biography about the events of a movie I recently enjoyed. I liked that it has historical pictures in it, and I’m looking forward to reading more about these people beyond just what the movie portrayed. 😉 Blindsided by Priscilla Cummings looks like a very interesting story of a teenage girl who loses her sight. I don’t know very much about it, but I deemed it worth a try and the unique, beautiful cover is a nice bonus. 😉 Unbroken: An Olympian’s Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive by Laura Hillenbrand is actually an adaption of her novel for young adults, and I’m glad to have found it since, while I’m interested in the life of Louis Zamperini, the movie and the adult book are a bit too much for me. I read some reviews and discovered that this version is cleaned up on the language and violence (at least somewhat), so I’m hoping to be able to read it. 😉

Step #4: Buy your books!!! 😀

And don’t forget to gawk over the deals you got and remind yourself that the money you saved means you can buy more books (or keep saving it).

Step #5: Freeze your books for 3-4 days.

Not to freak anyone out, but used books can sometimes harbor bugs/bug eggs. A few days in the freezer has been proven to nuke those little beasties! I’ve never had problems with this in used books (to my knowledge), I just do this as a precautionary thing. 😀 Tie your books up in a bag and pop them in the freezer in a safe, dry spot, then mark on the calendar when to get them out.


Or forget about them like I do and suddenly be surprised one day with new reading material. 😛 😉

Step #6: Make your books even more beautiful. 

Pull your books out of the freezer and let them warm up a little bit. If you’re concerned about pages warping, set a heavy dictionary on top of them for this part. 😉 When they are at room temperature, I like to look them over and erase any pencil markings inside, wipe any spots off the covers with a damp paper towel or alcohol swab, and remove all price tags. This time around, my copy of Unbroken had two price tags on it–one from the original bookstore and one from the thrift store, so I’m glad I had an alcohol swab to help remove all the stickiness.


Isn’t Blindsided gorgeous?!! That braille is actually embossed so you can feel it. ❤

Step #7: Welcome your books home. 

Your books are ready to take their place on your shelf (or to-read stack) with all of the others! Mine won’t officially take their place on my shelf until I’ve read them, but right now, here they are with some of my other books. (And yes, the ones right next to them happen to be secondhand!)


I had a great time thrift shopping, and I’m excited to try out these new books. ❤

Do you like buying books secondhand? Share your tips and stories with me in the comments. 😉

Thanks to Anna for taking these pictures for me, and my family for helping me shop and reshelve. 😉

39 thoughts on “I Love Book Thrifting (and You Can Too)

  1. This was so fun to read, and also very helpful! 🙂 I love buying books second hand, because you can purchase great books for not very much money! We used to have an adorable discount book store around the corner (it was a sad day when it closed. 😥 ) Your hair is really pretty btw!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ooh, I love thrift book shopping but I’ve only done it a couple times. And my family always gives me 5 minutes so it gets a little stressful 😜 You found so many neat books!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh, dear! XD I know what you mean. Most of the time the book shopping part is kinda just tacked on to our trip for buying clothes, so I was really grateful for this one. 😉 Yes! I was really surprised by how many good things there were! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. *heart eyes* Books!! More books* What more can one ask for?? XD And yikes, there can be bug eggs in them? O_O Huh. I haven’t had that problem before. I think my greatest find was War and Peace. I still have to read it. 😛

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thank You Kate for these tips. I love buying second hand books. My local library has discontinued book sales unfortunately. I have no thrift stores in my area. At one book sale I found a hard copy of The Little House on The Prairie. My sister found a large hardcover of the life of Beatrix Potter and one hardcover of Lewis Carroll and the real Alice. She had dark short hair while her two sisters resembled Alice more with long blonde hair. Alice was the middle sister. My sisters and i have found a lot of books we needed to complete or nearly complete a series. Eugenia Price is one of our favorite authors and we found one of her books in hardcover to our delight. Kate you sure have found some goodies in your search. Enjoy your books. God Bless.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is a super cool and a super fun post! Thanks Kate! I never thought of freezing the books, that’s cool, and mess hair is a big YES!. I scanned all the shelves this time around, and pulled a couple, but didn’t find anything really worth buying. Anyway. Thanks so much. I really enjoyed reading this one. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad you enjoyed, Libby! 😀 Ha, ha! My hair gets soooo messy, especially when I’m trying on clothes. 😛 And still I never remember to put it in something…

      Aw, too bad. I hope you find something next time!

      Thanks, Libby!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. This is such a fun post! I never thought of freezing books, but I may start doing that when I buy used ones. I’ve never had a problem with bugs in books I bring home, but I’ve seen plenty get turned in at the library I work at (insert disgusted-but-resigned face here). Also, I LOVED Blindsided, so I hope you enjoy it!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Wow! I’ve never really thought of getting books from the thrift store! Also, our Library has been selling 25 cent books that they no longer want (and we may have gotten so many we don’t have room on our shelves for them – lol). Do you think we should be concerned about bugs or anything?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, fun! We just went to a library booksale today which was sooo fun. 😉 (Ha, ha! Um, I may have so many books there aren’t room on the shelves for them too…) I wouldn’t worry about it with books you already have if you haven’t had any problems from them. And you can always ask the librarians if they treat the books, since I know some do. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Bugs in books?!?!?! NOOO!!!!!!! I find books at the thrift store all the time and have NEVER considered BUGS being in them. That’s a really creepy thought!!!!! For one, I HATE bugs. Actually, I’m terrified of them. For another, I have this unfounded fear of bedbugs and lice (so I never forget to throw my lower-back length hair in a bun for the thrift store. Imagine the bugs you could get in all that hair….). Not that ANYONE on our family has ever had either…..but I’m a bit of a germaphobe *sheepish grin* But bugs in the books……I’m gonna think of that every single time I go to the thrift store from now on! Thanks for that!!

    Actually, I do a similar balancing trick with piles of books. And pull them all out, and have several siblings asking “are you gonna get all of those??” while they stare on, flabbergasted. The only thing I don’t do is freeze them. Which I am SO gonna do from now on 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aw, sorry! Didn’t wanna scare anyone. 😉 It’s really rare, and I’ve never seen any, so I just do this to be on the safe side. 😉

      Bwahahaha! We should have book carrying olymics. XD I astound some of my siblings with my book habits too. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Thrifting books is by far my favorite thing ever! Who needs expensive book stores when you can find all you need at a thrift shop?

    Oh, and another thing thrifting books is useful for is finding copies of older, classic novels, which is not that uncommon for thrift stores because people donate all sorts of interesting things. If you’re interested in it, and if you find an edition that is rare, you can sell them on Ebay for quite a deal! (that is, if you don’t think owning a classic is awesome like I do ;)).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I know, right?!! It’s pretty amazing. 😀

      That’s super awesome. 😉 I’ve done some things like that before in the past, but not much lately. 😉 And owning classic copies is super cool. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love your book posts, Kate! It’s fun to watch a fellow bookworm shop for treasures. 🙂 I buy my used books online, but it was so fun to shop for used books at thrift stores in a used book store with two sets of friends on two trips I took one year. Maybe I should try to find some used book haunts near where I live!

    Looks like you found some great ones! I’m so excited to see that you’re interested in trying The Thief! The library is definitely the best idea, since you might not like it. But it’s worth a try! As you may know, in my opinion, it’s an amazing book, and it’s one of my tippy top favorites!

    If you want to know about content, try my review or E.F.B.’s review, since it’s a book I don’t recommend except to people who are okay with the mild content (mild violence and mild supernatural elements). But if you are, I can’t recommend it highly enough!! Also, try not to spoil yourself for the sequels if possible, with blurbs and reviews. I will warn you, though, that Book 2 is darker and more violent, so look up the content if you’re concerned. (The Thief is pretty light in tone, though.)

    *deep breath* So there’s my lengthy introduction to the book. 😀 It’s not for everyone, so no worries if you don’t like it – but it’s worth the chance. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aw, thanks, Mary! Me too. It’s a lot easier to find a specific book online, but when I’m in the mood for experimentation and treasure hunting–the thrifstore is the perfect place. Oh, that’s super fun! We’ve done that with our extended family before at Thanksgiving.

      It was really surprising how much I found! 😀 (A cart would have been such a good idea… 😛 ) Yes! Your review has been one of the ones that has made me curious to read it. 😉

      Thanks for the heads-up! I think I’ll try The Thief, and then see how I feel about the sequels when I get to that. 😉

      Thank you! And no worries about the length. I like hearing people talk about the things they like. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, for sure! :))) I mostly shop for specific books, but it’s so fun to branch out and explore, and I should do that more! It’s so nice to find stores that have good deals on good books, too.

        That’s awesome! Haha, yes, your cart!! 😀 Aww, good! That was the object, heehee. 😀 I figured you had probably seen it, but I wanted to make sure you had cause of the content. 😉

        Sounds like a perfect plan! The Thief is light and clean, and on the lowest end of YA, so it’s a great one to start with and see how you like it before moving on – I like the sequels even better, but they are definitely YA (thought they’re really clean as YA goes).

        Aww, thanks!! That means a lot. 🙂 I feel the same way about others!! :)))

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.