I have always been a huge fan of used books. Not because I don’t love how shiny and pretty new books are, but because I rarely have enough money to buy new books. A used copy is exactly the same…except for the dog-eared pages, random comments and highlighting. Honestly, I often love my used books more. It’s like a treasure hunt to find the best loved pages or passages, signaled by the most underlining, most smudged edges and missing corners from being bent so much.

I have three favorite places to find good (read: not totally beat up) used books. The first is obviously book stores. Both ones that specialize in used books only and those (like Powell’s) that offer both new and used. Bookstores are the most reliable places to shop, but also the most expensive. As a much cheaper and incredibly unreliable alternative are Goodwill and garage sales. Goodwill (at least the ones here) has a very small selection, and obviously only updated when people donate. Garage sales are the same: the selection is only what people are willing to get rid of that day. While it takes a great deal of determination to sort through the many blah books, at prices of $.5 to $2, it is always a day well spent. My last favorite “shopping” spots are old books my friends get rid of. You can’t beat a price of free, and who doesn’t secretly covet at least a few of their friend’s books!

Speaking of books from friends, I recently had the chance to go through the old text books of a political science major. She specialized in HIV/AIDS, United States foreign policy and current politics in South Africa for her thesis and had some truly amazing books! In total, I took 17 books and the boy has three more about military strategy and science. Because I’m currently working of making a formal summer reading list (if not broken down by exact titles, at least by genre with several possible books), I want to share my newest finds. Obviously in the interest of having a well-rounded reading list I can’t read all of these books in the next few months, but I gladly welcome any suggestions on which ones to pick!

In the HIV/AIDS category: Letting Them Die, Catherine Campbell; Witness to AIDS, Edwin Cameron; 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa, Stephanie Nolen; HIV/AIDS in South Africa, S. S. Abdool Karim and Q. Abdool Karim; AIDS and South Africa: The Social Expression of a Pandemic, Kyle D. Kauffman and David L. Lindauer.

In the Military History category: Technology and War: From 2000 B.C. to the Present, Martin Van Creveld; War in the Modern World, Theodore Ropp; The Face of Battle, John Keegan.

In the Political Science/Sociology category: The Transformation of Political Community, Andrew Linklater; Imperial Encounters, Roxanne Lynn Doty; The Sociology of Science, Robert K. Merton; Science in Action, Bruno Latour; Writing Security: United States Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity, David Campbell; Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge, Steven Epstein; The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas S. Kuhn.

And in the random category: A Journal of the Plague Year, Daniel Defoe and La Nausee, Jean-Paul Sartre (this one is in French so I can’t read it, but a copy of the text in its original language was too good to pass up!)

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