Advice to Graduate Students from The Little Professor: buying books is a serious pursuit. Get it right:
Literary criticism is temporary, but the literature itself is forever (one hopes). If at all possible, buy the best scholarly editions available; if not at all possible, given how much scholarly editions can cost these days, buy the nearest possible thing. For anyone doing 18th and 19th c. literature, Oxford World's Classics and Penguin Classics are your friends; so are Broadview (reprints of rare novels and poetry collections) and Kentucky (18th-c. women's fiction). AMS, Scolars Press, Arno, and Woodstock all offer useful facsimile editions, but can be exceptionally expensive. When in secondhand bookstores, keep an eye out for old Virago reprints (mostly 19th-c.). Everyman and Pandora reprints should be treated with some caution, as they can suffer from typo-itis.
Two things occur to me:
1) I wish I'd had someone to say these things to me when I entered college, or more specifically graduate school;
2) Blogs may be nigh useless for talking about Big Issues (the Big Conversations on my favourites notwithstanding), but stuff like this is absolutely indispensable: the collected wisdom of people very focused on a particular realm of knowledge, passed on in easily-digestible format. Industry and Intellect do not animate the blogosphere; passion does, and so most of what we find here is rubbish, yet the best of it is priceless.
My own book-buying habits are haphazard and impulsive; i.e. I've got a lot of books, all of which I have wanted, but many fewer of which I actually want at any given moment. Still: a room without books is not a room, or something - isn't that Cicero? Or was it Sissy Spacek?