Top Ten Tuesday: Bargains of Unknown Value

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is “Books I Bought/Borrowed Because…” Last July, recent changes in my life had left me with more time than I’d had for the past few years. I realized then how much I really wanted to get back to reading regularly, which had dropped off some time after my first child was born, 18 years ago. As tends to be the way with me, once I decided to do this, I dove headlong into it, adding book reviews to my blog, building a to-be-read on Goodreads, and of course keeping my eye out for books to add to that list.

Suddenly I had a new purpose when I went with my husband to thrift stores, garage sales, and bargain stores. Even my husband started bringing home books for me that he thought I might be interested in, when he went to these kinds of places without me. I’ve since had to slow way down on buying physical books that I know nothing about, no matter the deal. But for today, my list will include books that I (or my husband) bought simply because they were super cheap (anywhere from $0.25 to $2, or even free), without really knowing much, if anything, about them.

At the time of making this list, I have not read any of these books except the first one, so the value of the bargain I got on each of them is still completely a mystery to me. Some I plan to read soon, others will likely take a while to get to.

Landry Park by Bethany Hagen
This was the very first book I bought with no knowledge of it but the blurb on the jacket. But it was a good deal at a bargain store, so I had to get it! After reading reviews for it later, I was concerned I wouldn’t like it, but I just finished it recently and felt it was worth the buy. See my review here.

Mrs. Murphy series books by Rita Mae Brown
At a local thrift store which tragically has very few books, I found 2 books from this series for 25¢ each. All I really know about these books is that they’re cozy mysteries and involve a cat. And my parents named their dog after the cat. I now own books #2 & #8 in the series, but will start at #1 if I can.
Shown here: Rest in Pieces

Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
This is one my husband picked up at a thrift store for maybe $1 when I wasn’t with him. We’re big fans of Jim Gaffigan, ever since seeing him on That ’70s Show years ago. Plus, he’s from Indiana, where we live. And he’s hilarious.

I, Q series by Roland Smith
My husband came home with the first 3 books in this 6-book series at the same time as he bought the previous book. It’s a YA spy series that I’d never heard of, but does sound interesting.
Shown here: Independence Hall

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
I actually got this book completely free when buying books for my sister on eBay. I took advantage of a buy 2, get 1 free offer from one seller, buying 2 for her, and when I didn’t see anything else in the eligible books list that she’d like, I grabbed this for myself. I watched some of the 1st (or maybe the 2nd?) movie at a hotel once years ago, and since then have been curious to read the series.

Redshirts by John Scalzi
This was already on my TBR list, as my husband had strongly recommended it, and then he shared with me an offer he found to get the e-book for free. As a Star Trek-franchise fan, I’m looking forward to reading this.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
This is another one my husband brought home from a thrift store recently (he tends to stop by Good Will and other local used stores when he’s out by himself to look for the odd board game gem, and now he looks for books he thinks I might like too ❤️). I don’t know anything about it except what the blurb on the back says.

Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn
Another of my husband’s suggestions, though at least I was present for this one. We found this in our library’s used book sale section, and my husband figured at least this way I’d read a book by the author of some Star Wars books my husband likes (I have no desire to read Star Wars books). I’m starting to amass too many books that start a series in the middle grade or YA age groups. There are 3 just on this list!


Great Illustrated Classics books by various authors
A few months ago, I read the GIC version of Little Women to my 9-year-old daughter, and then not long after that, the version for Anne of Green Gables. We both agreed that it was a nice way to read old classics. And we both quickly agreed we really wanted to read Pride and Prejudice next. But our library only had a few of these, and not that one. After searching for it to buy and not really wanting to spend upwards of $7, I found this lot of 40 GIC books on eBay for what came out to about $3.50 per book. I took a few days to think about it, and then my husband pulled the trigger. My daughter has already started reading one on her own, and after we finish the book we’re currently reading together (Anne of Avonlea), we’ll start on Pride and Prejudice.

Scores of free Kindle books by various authors!
Thanks to this blog (check out her Friday Reads posts) and daily emails from this site, just in the last couple of weeks I’ve acquired 9+ free Kindle books. I’m not going to list them all here by name, but below (and above) are the covers (some of them are probably still free on Amazon if you’re interested). For these, I do actually do a little research before I acquire them, even though they’re free, and only pick ones that seem interesting and don’t have reviews that scare me off.

Have you read any of these, or are any on your own TBR? Link your TTT post so I can see what you did with today’s topic!

22 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Bargains of Unknown Value

    • He’s also the culprit behind 1/3 of my large notebook collection. He likes showing his love through gift-giving, so it’s kinda funny to me that it now extends to books!


  1. Ooh, a fellow secondhand book hunter! I’ve picked up dozens if not hundreds of books to “take a chance on” at that price point (I’ve even read some of them). I also keep collecting free ebooks like crack, despite the notable problem of not owning an e-reader or even a tablet, telling myself I might as well stockpile while I can so the Future Me who finally gets one will be grateful. Am I going to add some from your list? Maybe. (Yes.)

    And oh my gosh, NOSTALGIA FLASHBACK @ THE GIC. Combined with Wishbone, they are responsible for me being very familiar with the canon of English literature prior to entering middle school and consequently way less afraid to tackle the original versions that were assigned in school later. What a sweet thing to share with your daughter! That’s a great eBay bargain.

    I did a similar topic to yours this week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There have to be software and apps that you can get to allow you to read ebooks on a phone or computer screen, if that’s something that interests you. I know Amazon has a free app it keeps telling me I can download, but I have a Kindle, so I don’t need it.

      I don’t remember reading GIC books as a kid (though now I wish I had), but I do know the basic plots of several classics because of Wishbone. Pretty sure I’ve seen every episode of that multiple times! I loved that dog… I’m so happy to have these books on my shelves and will probably read some myself, besides the ones I read to/with my daughter.

      (I left a comment on your post, though signed in with Google, so it may not be obvious it was me.)


  2. Kindle freebies will be the death of me, I think!

    That said, I’ve read the first Mrs. Murphy book and really enjoyed it. Have been meaning to get back to the series but haven’t had a chance.

    READ DAD IS FAT! Oh my lord, I borrowed the audio from the library and laughed so hard, I cried. My husband loved him, possibly because they’re both redheads from Indiana, but his humor is so relatable, especially as a parent. Hooooot pooooockets!

    I love that your husband buys books for you, too. Mine would do that as well. He’d go into the bookstore or somewhere looking for something for himself and come home with a book for me. “Look, it has vampires in it!” He knew me so well. 🙂

    Anyway, I hope that these all turn out to be great reads! And if not, at least you didn’t spend a lot, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • My husband and I quote older Jim Gaffigan bits a lot. Hot Pockets is one. There’s also, “Yeah, whatever, sea cow.” And a much more obscure one that I won’t try to explain.

      He’s not a reader and doesn’t really look at books normally, so there’s something really special about knowing he went and browsed the books specifically to see if there was something he thought I might like.

      I don’t buy books full price unless I’ve already read it and know I’ll re-read it. Or if it was written by a friend or well-loved author or is the sequel to a book I loved. It’s freeing to know that if I don’t like it, I can sell or donate it without feeling like I’ve lost anything.


  3. This is a lovely list, and you really showcase the positives of secondhand book shopping. I’m a huge fan of it – and I’ll often go somewhere out of my way just for the bookshop there. Love how you’re picking up good value books regardless of what you know about them. It seems like a great way to read a more diverse selection, especially to one as picky as me when it comes to buying physical copies!

    On another note, what a throwback to seeing City of Ember here! I remember reading that book series as a kid and it was fab. Hope you enjoy

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re exactly right about having a more diverse selection. I mean, obviously I still read the blurb, look for something that seems up my alley, but I have certainly decided to take a chance on some things I wouldn’t normally think to read. The first one on the list, Landry Park, I know I never would have read if I’d read the reviews before buying the book. But in the end, I’m glad I read it!

      City of Ember seemed familiar to me when my husband brought it home, but I’m not sure why. I was an adult when it came out, and just starting to fall out of the regular reading habit I’d had up until then, so I’m sure I didn’t hear about it then. But I’m looking forward to see what it’s all about now!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think they made a film of it (City of Ember) a few years ago, so perhaps that’s why? I’m definitely going to try being easier in my book choices, especially if it works out!


        • It could very well be the movie that makes it seem familiar to me. Considering some of the cast in it, I would be surprised if my husband hadn’t told me about it back then.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. You really can’t go wrong with a free or super cheap book. If you hate it, oh well, you’re only out a dollar! I admit I’m not much of a secondhand store buyer, but I definitely look for deals on new books online and at the bookstore. A coupon, frequent buyer discount, buy 1 get 1 free deal – I’m all about those. Books are expensive and sales/discounts can make a big difference!

    Happy TTT!


    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been going to Barnes & Noble a lot more (had been until recently, that is), and look at their various deals too. Though the combination of a good deal and a book that interests me is lower than at other stores, it is nice to bring home a brand new one now and then.


  5. I love a good bargain too! I am lucky enough to live in an area with lots of great used book shops, so my house is basically overflowing with books I’ve yet to read. I do try to limit my spending to books I actually know I want to read though lol.

    I’m curious about The Maze Runner and City of Ember also!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have to be careful how many books I buy, even at a bargain, because we have limited shelf space. Though since I’ve started doing this so much lately, we have started to clear off books that we don’t really need on the shelves and either set them aside to donate or put them in a box to store long-term.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh I love to thrift books! It’s something I’m really missing right now. I can’t wait to spend a day perusing books at my local thrift stores. 😉 I’ve read the whole Maze Runner series (and seen the movies) and I really enjoyed it! The City of Ember is pretty good, too. It’s more of a middle grade, young teen book. My kids all read it when they were pre-teens. Great finds!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m glad to hear about Maze Runner, since I’ve heard enough comments on the opposite side recently. I’m looking forward to it. I could tell from the book itself that City of Ember was for younger readers. Not a problem for me, and it has the added benefit that if I like it, I can recommend it to my daughter.
    I don’t usually go to stores to look for books on my own, but am happy to go along with my husband most of the time that he goes (he’s a spender, I’m a saver) for his own purposes. But like you, when everything opens back up again, I’ll insist we hit every store I like to look for used books in!


  8. My story is very similar to yours. Once I started getting back into reading again, I went out and bought all the bargain books I could find at second hand shops and such, because I just wanted to read books. It took me a while to realize that I could just buy the books I was actually interested in.

    I’ve read Dad Is Fat! It was a funny read (as you might expect from Gaffigan), but I felt like a lot of it was retelling jokes from his standup, so if you’ve watched all his shows, it might feel a bit familiar. The free Kindle books always get me, too. xD I’ve tried to cut back on that, too, since it takes forever for me to get around to reading them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t seen as much of Gaffigan’s more recent shows, and it’s very possible that I won’t remember a lot of his earlier stuff by now, so yay! (lol)

      I’m already starting to get an idea of what appeals to me and what I should pass on, and have told my husband not to buy quite so many books for me. I can’t guarantee it’ll stop him, but I can try. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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