Shopping for Books and Other Quests


This is pretty close to what I had in mind

This is going to be a rather rambling post, but hopefully you will read it to the end.  If you do, you might be able to help someone with a rather interesting quest.

Yesterday, thanks to a gift card for Canada’s sole remaining bookstore chain, I found myself touring the bookstore.  With $25 dollars burning a hole in my pocket I looked for something to spend it on.  I tried the bargain table, with very little success.  I considered a literary magazine like the Paris Review, but wasn’t sure if that was for me.  I considered some magazines, but nothing really caught my eye.  I remembered that the bookstore used to have a whole section on “classics” for a reasonable prices–these books are in the public domain, so without pesky fees to the writers or the writers’ estates, they can come out with inexpensive editions–and I went in search of that.

I wasn’t really having any luck. I think I set my sights too high.  I was trying to find something that would really get my heart beating.  I wanted to get something “different” or unique or….I don’t really know.

I remember last year that they had the complete set of Ian Fleming’s James Bond paperbacks for less than $30. I didn’t buy them when I saw them and now thanks to the release of Spectre, all new, higher priced, editions have come out.


I found this in the Mystery section of the book store. I am not sure fans would have expected to find it there–I certainly didn’t

My quest was not in vain. I did manage to find a book to buy in my bookstore sojourn.  I came across a copy of Web of the City, Harlan Ellison’s first book.  I found it odd that it was in the mystery section, but that is what probably kept it available.

I had some time to reflect on my bookstore trip on my ride home.

Not long ago, I dreamed of having a room that was completely devoted to my books with dark wooden shelves covering every inch of wall space. In the centre would be a truly comfortable and oversized leather chair with ottoman, flanked by a dark wood table to hold my beverage of choice.  If this image seems like something out of history, it probably is no coincidence.  Whether it be from TV or books, the idea of a den decorated like that is deeply rooted in my subconscious.

The thing is, this vision is largely gone from my dream list. If I had that extra room (and the cleaning that would go along with it) I would rather have things like a home gym, pool table, train layout or pinball machines.  I also don’t buy many books anymore, opting instead to patronize the library both physically and electronically.  And if I decide to purchase a book,  I am more likely to purchase them online.

I used to love going to bookstores. I could spend a lot of time looking at books.  I remember scouring used bookstores for those amazing finds.  I once came across 7 books by Harlan Ellison and managed to purchase them for less than $10.  I still proudly display them on my bookshelf.  I even found a copy of The Warriors (you might remember the movie), which I hadn’t expected.

webofcity 2

This would have matched the other editions I have

I had different quests when I was younger. I tried to purchase every science fiction book that Isaac Asimov wrote. I wanted to own every Harlan Ellison book written.  I had planned on collecting every Hugo and Nebula Award Winning book.

I also wanted my books to be the same edition. I am not talking about first editions, just the same.  I wanted my books to look the same.  I collected all of James Clavell books with the white covers because the black ones didn’t really speak to me.

My Quests

The things that I am looking for these days include the following. Some are certainly easily attained, so it should be noted that my hunt is a rather passive one and is subject to the vagaries of my moods and finances.

Hardcover copies of:

  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • The Sun Also Rises (which I found on my bookstore trip, but was a rather ugly edition)
  • A Separate Peace


  • All five Three Musketeers books–Oxford World Press editions
  • A complete set of Japanese Grammar Books (I need one more to complete my set)
  • A complete collection of Japanese woodblock prints (several artists–Utamaro, Hiroshige)

One of my readers wrote the following. If you could help her, that would be truly fantastic.

I’d love to come across an English children’s book I loved as a child about a caterpillar named Caleb who was on his way to a party when a little girl called Penelope imprisoned him in a matchbox. Unfortunately, the cover was obscured by white tape (one of my barbaric siblings having damaged it before I came along) and I was too young to note the title and/or author, so it’s not likely I will.

Her website is

How about you? Is there something you are looking for?  Please reply, because someone might be able to help you.

About Anthony

I am: equal parts rebel, romantic and shockingly average Joe. a writer trapped inside of an ESL teacher's body. an introverted attention seeker. a teacher who hopes one day to be called "Captain, my Captain." an intellectual who can do some very dumb things. a person whose Japan experience, despite being so long ago, still exerts a strong influence upon him. a lover of books, music, beer, hockey and Pizza.
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4 Responses to Shopping for Books and Other Quests

  1. Howto$tuffYourPig says:

    I used to live going to books stores but sadly they are starting to disappear as they make way for ebooks. We just use our local library for reading.

  2. Howto$tuffYourPig says:

    “like” going to book stores..😉

  3. Marta Frant says:

    I have my own theory. Perhaps it works only for me. There is a certain set of classic books and worldwide bestsellers which everyone should read, at some point in their lives. After that you start looking for recommendations on what to read next. If someone says me that this or that book is definitely worth reading, more often than not the book turns out to be rather boring (in my humble opinion).
    When I happen to be in a bookstore (I try to go there spontaneously) I wander through the aisles of books until some book captures my attention. At this magic moment you can feel a book angel sitting on your shoulder.
    Recently this method has helped me to find Oona & Salinger by Frederic Beigbeder. I love his books and films based on his books so I decided to follow my gut feeling. And I didn’t regret it.

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