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Writing Wednesday: Used Books

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In today’s excerpt from The Salty Witch, Brie couldn’t buy her books before classes started in the summer session because her teachers hadn’t revealed the required reading list. So after the first day, she has to hurry to the bookstore and find used books. If you’ve ever had to buy your own textbooks, you know how expensive they can get. Brie’s family doesn’t have a lot of money so she has to save money however she can.

Waiting in Line at the Bookstore

At the end of class, Ms. Murphy gave us the assigned reading list. The bookstore hours had been extended late that evening, but I knew the line would be long because everyone needed their textbooks. I ran to get there before all the used books had sold out and managed to grab a spot behind only twenty other kids.

My eyes went across the quad to the cafe’s outdoor tables. I could still remember the exact seat where I was sitting when Gabriella surprised me by showing up for my birthday. At the time, I thought it was the most romantic gesture anyone had ever done for me. Now, it made my heart hurt to remember how she’d been manipulating me so she could steal from the school. I turned away from the bad memories.

I was still waiting when Erin and Pamela showed up at a more leisurely pace. By now, the line had stretched through the whole quad, so far that I couldn’t see the end.

“The speedy girl is here first,” Pamela said with a giggle. “I was wondering why you ran so fast when we left the class. I could barely walk after all the ice cream I ate. Can we join you?”

I glanced back to see if anyone would complain about her cutting in line, but it seemed other people were saving spots for their friends, so I nodded. “Sure,” I said, stepping back to give her room. “I wish they’d told us the reading lists ahead of time so we could have gotten the books sooner. It sucks that we all have to scramble like this at the same time.”

Pamela shrugged. “Yeah, but it’s not like they’re gonna sell out. They know how many students to order the books for.”

I didn’t want to say that it wasn’t true for used copies—they only had as many as they’d been able to buy back from students. Textbooks were expensive, especially new ones. My family could barely afford to send me to the extra summer sessions, so I had to save every penny that I could.

Erin sighed. “It’s a dumb policy by the academy.” Leaning in close, she whispered, “They tell teachers not to reveal the reading list until the first day of class so we’re forced to buy our books on campus, which are all marked up. If people knew ahead of time, they’d order them online for cheap.”

I nodded. “It’s the same way at the school where my mom teaches, too. That’s why she told me to always get here early for the used copies.”

Pamela’s eyes widened. “I had no idea. They mark up the book prices?” She shook her head. “I had to skip my manicure this week because my parents told me to save it for buying my books. And look at how gross my cuticles are right now.” She held out her hand to show her plain nails.


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