Garage Bookstores, Book Journals, & Second Week of Zero Spending!

The ultimate garge bookstore: the Planned Parenthood Book Sale in Des Moines

The Ultimate Garage Bookstore: the Planned Parenthood Book Sale in Des Moines

I love garage bookstores.

That’s what I call them.

They are located in literal garages, concrete bunkers, and dilapidated buildings in deserted urban neighborhoods.

In the 1970s, my dad used to take me with my terminally hip, wire-rim-bespectacled friends to what we laughingly called the “garage bookstore.” It wasn’t one of the great bookshops like The Paper Place or Epstein’s, where you could find Lawrence Ferlinghetti and The Diaries of Anais Nin.   No, it was a low-to-the-ground concrete building on Riverside Dr., between Iowa City and the small town of Hills.   You could find Kurt Vonnegut (he taught briefly in I.C. so we loved him), Mary Stewart, Herman Hesse (Steppenwolf was made into a movie), Rosemary’s Baby, Jane Eyre, and an occasional Thomas Hardy for 25 or 50 cents!  Later you could trade them in for something else!  The shop was crammed with treasure and junk.

the watefall margaret drabble 6574486-MEvey town used to have a garage bookstore.  In Bloomington, Indiana, there was a similarly gloomy low-slung building near the park where the market was held every Saturday.   I walked past The Book Rack or Book Bag (or whatever it was called) every day on the way to and from campus, and I acquired most of my Margaret Drabbles there..  It wasn’t in the class of Bloomington’s other used bookstores, among them Caveat Emptor, where I bought Kathleen Raine’s autobiography, or Christopher’s, where I found Kristin Lavransdatter.  But I loved it.

On vacation in Canada some years back, we stopped late one afternoon for lunch in Fort Erie, Ontario,  and then went to a garage bookstore.  (Possibly  Bridgeport Books, which I found on the net, but I am not sure.)  Rooms opened into rooms into more rooms, and we found lovely Canadian books by Sandra Birdsell, Margaret Laurence, and Joy Kogawa.

One winter we were in Dubuque, Iowa, for a cross-country ski race (my husband skis; I do not!).  It was three degrees and we were both cold and cranky, so we stopped in a run-down neighborhood to shop at a true garage bookstore.  (It may have been called Catherine’s._  It was unheated, and you could see your breath, but there certainly were a lot of books.  I found Barbara Pyms and a complete boxed set of Anne of Green Gables.  The next time we went to Dubuque, the store had gone out of business.  Too bad!

In Des Moines, the ultimate garage bookstore is the Planned Parenthood Book Sale, held twice a year in the 4-H Building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds.   In the huge, uncozy building, I  always find cheap hardbacks, Viragos, travel books, and classics.

I suppose there are still garage bookstores, but I rarely see them anymore. Do you know this kind of store?

My book journal.

  My Book Journal is falling apart!

MY BOOK JOURNAL is falling apart!  The cover has been clawed by cats, the pages are dog-eared, and now the spine is cracked.

These guys didn’t do it.  They’re asleep!

IMG_3470They say it was that visiting cat–the one outside who wants to come in and live here!

Actually, I can’t imagine what could have cracked the spine.

Fortunately, I have lots of other notebooks.  But I’ve only written in one-third of the pages!

I suppose I could tape it up.

Do you have trouble with book journals?

no shoppingZERO SPENDING!  I am very good at ALMOST-ZERO spending so far.

My conspicuous consumption was brought home to me during my recent vacation.

And so I decided to spend less.

The Living Well Spending Less website expresses what we all feel sometimes.

Let’s face it–we all get off track sometimes when it comes to budgeting and managing our money wisely! Whether it be overspending on a vacation or little bad habits that add up over time, sometimes we just need to hit the reset button! If you’ve ever made it to the end of the month and wondered where all your money actually went, a month of no-spending might just be the perfect way to reset your spending habits.

I am buying the necessities. But I am not buying any more books till March 2016.

And so I have also temporarily stopped reading book reviews, because somehow an enthusiastic book review in a professional book publication can send me into BUY BUY BUY mode.

Reading book blogs is more soothing.  Really, it’s very like spying on someone’s book journal. I write them down on a list and look for them at used bookstores.  The bloggers I read don’t always read the latest books.

Anyway,  I spent zero for six days in a row and then had to buy a teaball for $5.  (My other one broke.)  Another day I bought sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, and white beans for an emergency vegetarian meal.  It cost $7.45.

Aren’t groceries expensive?

But I’m doing very well!  I have many weeks to go, though.

6 thoughts on “Garage Bookstores, Book Journals, & Second Week of Zero Spending!

  1. Sigh – that picture makes me swoon……. (the books, that is). We don’t have large-scale book sales like that over here (at least not that I know about) although I do ok from the local charith stores. And well done on the not spending!


    • Yes, I know that swoony feeling! Those charity shops you have have incredible selections and I wish we had them here. At the Planned Parenthood Book Sale you might find lots of Trollope one time and next time find a bunch of Simeonon or biographies. They never have what you’re looking for but you always find something.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank goodness we don’t have anything to match your picture round here. I would be permanently penniless. I am feeling very proud of myself this afternoon. After a couple of very hectic weeks I realised I was too tired to do anything this afternoon other than re-read an old favourite. I made myself take one of the shelf rather than downloading one that would have cost money. Every penny saved is another for a new book later on.


    • Fortunately the sale is only twice a year! I love rereading. We have such easy access to new books on our e-readers, but often it is best to reach for something on our shelves.


Leave a Reply

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s