Secondhand bookstores and thrift shops – last refuge for the damned … horror reader?

A couple of times a year (probably more than that), I visit the thrift shops where I live; St Vincent de Paul, Lifeline, Salvos. Mostly people go in here to look for clothes, but I enter in search of books!
For an avid horror reader like me, living outside a major city, these places are veritable goldmines and often I’ve come away with a few gems.

Just this week I picked up four books for $6, namely The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, nominated for the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel (I’ve only ever seen the film and have been meaning to read the book); The Lord of the Flies by William Golding; Roofworld by Christopher Fowler and; Blue World by Robert R. McCammon (nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection in ’89).
That’s just this week, but over the years I’ve found well-loved copies of The Exorcist, The Great and Secret Show and even a few Graham Masterton novels.
The ironic thing is that the secondhand book store, which understandably has a lot of books, doesnt have much in the way of horror (but has a massive paranormal sparkly romance section!), which is disappointing, but thankfully the thrift shops always seem to deliver.
Of course every year Lifeline hosts an annual book sale and usually I walk away with several arm fulls of horror novels, so I have plenty to read.
Most of the books though are from the 80’s and 90’s when horror was in its prime. It would be great to see some newer books at these events every now and then.

I’d love to know what gems you guys have found in a thrift shop or secondhand book shop. Do you go hunting for older novels like me, or do you prefer to buy new books online?

About darkscrybe

Two-time international Bram Stoker Award-nominee®*, Greg Chapman is a horror author and artist based in Queensland, Australia. Greg is the author of several novels, novellas and short stories, including his award-nominated debut novel, Hollow House (Omnium Gatherum) and collections, Vaudeville and Other Nightmares (Specul8 Publishing) and This Sublime Darkness and Other Dark Stories (Things in the Well Publications). He is also a horror artist and his first graphic novel Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, (McFarland & Company) written by authors Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton, won the Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel category at the Bram Stoker Awards® in 2013. He is also the current President of the Australasian Horror Writers Association. Greg lives in Rockhampton with his wife and their two daughters. * Superior Achievement in a First Novel for Hollow House (2016) and Superior Achievement in Short Fiction, for “The Book of Last Words” (2019)
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4 Responses to Secondhand bookstores and thrift shops – last refuge for the damned … horror reader?

  1. Oooh, I love a good secondhand hunt. I collected a pretty mixed pile in my last trip, though the only names I remember are Jean M Auel and Juliet Marillier. I might even get around to reading them, soon. Hopefully before I bring more back, eh?


  2. Micheal Grin says:

    My wife and I have built a large collection of books simply from thrift stores and garage sales. We've found so many that quickly became favourites.
    We're talking horror though, right? The best finds ever in a second hand store? Edward Lee's The House, Classic H.P. Lovecraft and a Clive Barker collection. Finding horror this was isn't easy but it feels so rewarding when you do.

    Mr Grin

  3. Greg Chapman says:

    Glad you two are out hunting as well. It's like Christmas when you find a great book that hasn't seen print for a while.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Found an original paperback copy of Douglas Clegg's Goat Dance at a thrift store (I'd been looking a long time for that one). Some more good finds: The Dark Descent (great and comprehensive anthology, can't recall the editor), Dark Advent by Brian Hodge, Johnny Gruesome by Greg Lamberson… I've seen quite a few Gary Braunbeck novels at the local thrift store but I had all of them already since I love his work.

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