Every year for Christmas and my birthday (the day after Christmas), my family gets me gift cards to Barnes & Noble. If you'll remember, I hate to shop, but I'll suck it up and battle the crowds on Dec. 26 to fulfill my guilty pleasure of buying more books.

Since it's only Dec. 9, I have yet to get a gift card, but that didn't stop me from starting my book-buying spree a little early this year: Last Friday, I went to Now and Then Books, a great used book shop on Emaus Avenue in Allentown.

There are four reasons why I broke tradition this year:

1. I needed to make room on my shelves for this year's expectant crop of books. Thanks to Now and Then's trade-in program, my shelf space has increased ... and I got $36.50 in store credit that I can use toward buying more books to fill up my shelves (it's a vicious cycle).

2. Now and Then's in-store special for the week was discounted classic literature! I have been obsessed with reading classic lit ever since a college professor told me if I wanted to become a better writer I had to stop reading "trashy popular fiction" and start reading the classics.

3. Even though it's a used book store, Now and Then does get new releases - although they come and go pretty quickly. I was lucky enough to snag the paperback edition of Stephen King's Duma Key for 50% less than what Barnes & Noble sells it for! 

4. After nearly an hour of perusing the well-organized shop, I plopped nine books on the counter. My total bill for all those books was a mere $18.13, because I was able to apply my trade-in credit for half of my bill.

I still have credit left at Now and Then, so I gave the owner my "wish list" of books and he'll let me know if he gets any of them in the shop (awesome!). By doing my book shopping this way, I'll be able to free up some of my expected gift-card-funds for my other guilty pleasure ... buying comedy CDs!

Anyone have any book - or comedian - suggestions for my list?