About two years ago, a small used bookstore opened in my hometown. This was cause for both excitement and disbelief on my part. Excitement because, well, it's a bookstore. Disbelief because my hometown isn't exactly the kind of place where you would expect a bookstore to open and thrive. In spite of that (and in spite of being located in a unit adjacent to an auto repair shop), the owner turned it into a very cute place, with cozy decorations, comfortable chairs, and a decent selection of books. I was therefore really disappointed when I recently stopped by and discovered a sign announcing that the shop was set to close in two weeks. It's always sad to see a book business fail to make it. I felt especially guilty in this instance because I had only been into the shop three or four times during visits home, and usually traded in more books than I bought. To assuage my guilt a little, I entered the shop determined to find a few books to buy as a way of bidding it farewell.
Turns out, I didn't need much determination at all because the shelves seemed to be stocked with books directly from my To Read list, including two Barbara Pym novels, a Murakami novel, and Cecelia by Fanny Burney. And as if these finds weren't enough, the owner insisted on taking the entire payment out of my past credits for trade-ins, so I ended up not paying a penny for any of them.
Second only to my windfall in Maine this summer, this was one of my luckiest used-book shopping experiences ever, albeit a very bittersweet one.