Several years ago I decided that I was far too poor to buy all the books that I wanted to read, and FAR, FAR too poor to afford the BYU Library's ridiculous late fees (not too mention the innate desire to avoid the H-B-double-hockey-sticks at all costs).
In my extremity, I turned to the public libraries. Naturally, my attention was first caught by the institute of higher learning-turned-library-turned-reception hall, the grandly named Provo City Library at Academy Square. Not only do they have P-town's second-best (though occasionally vandalized) statue of Brother Brigham out front, but they also put on really...umm...interesting plays from time to time.
When the PCL@AS stopped meeting my needs (and by that I mean that I forgot to return The Song of Norway CD until nearly a month after it was due), I found comfort in the shelves of the Orem Public Library. Not as pretentious as their cross-town rivals, the OPL offers the best collection of ancient-to-classic movies this side of your grandma's basement, and all for just $1 a week. It's like a time-warp back to late 80's video rentals, before Blockbuster even existed. Sadly, also before No More Late Fees.
I figured as long as I was spending money on books again, I'd return to retail. Not Barnes & Nobles, mind you, but yesterday I passed a little time in a used book store. I can sum up my experience in three simple words...and by that I mean "a phrase so over-used that I want to scratch my computer screen": The New Awesome.
Just to give you a feel for this store, think of the shop in the opening scene of Gremlins. I am positive that Pioneer Books would've sold me a Mogwai if I'd only asked. There are shelves sort of randomly scattered about, as if when the owner had them delivered in the late 1800's he started to organize them, and then thought, "Ah, screw it." At one point in my 1+ hours of wandering through the literary maze, the lights shut off. I was in the "Hard Backed Classics" section, located in the very back corner; apparently hard-backed classics are the milk of the Used Book Store world. It was almost pitch black. I think it must've been a ploy by the owner, because it really added to the ambiance of the whole place-- I felt like I should have had a flickering candle by which to read the titles of the tattered tomes before me.
Anyway, it worked. I walked out with hard-backed classics (The Scarlet Letter and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow) and a reference book (The Timetables of History), all for $19.50. And the best part: my old books about old things smell like old manure. Awesome.