My recent Facebook status, thanks to our Christmas shopping binge, was "Expat joy: a fully restocked English language library." Justin and I went absolutely mad at Half-Price Books, our favorite Midwestern chain in which most books are half cover price, and the clearance section sometimes has blessed blessed $1 bargains (or if you're super lucky, 50 cents, for series romance or vintage sci-fi and mysteries). We had to check an extra bag to get everything back within the weight limit, but fortunately you're still allowed 2 free bags per passenger on trans-Pacifics. Unpacking our haul was bliss.
You have no idea how much books mean to you until your access to them is limited. There are stores in Fukuoka with quite strong English-language selection, at least of recent and award-winning books. Our favorite is Junkudo in Tenjin. But I've probably only bought four books there, because they're so expensive. English mass-market paperbacks are around 1200 yen, or $12 - so even with US book prices climbing, you pay about 150%. I can get three books in the US for the same price, as long as I'm willing to schlep.
I can also get English books at the Fukuoka City Public Library, which I've written about before. They have remarkable English nonfiction (especially on Japanese topics) and solid fiction and even children's book selections.
Still, I'm a pretty voracious reader, as in sometimes two or three books in a weekend alone. At Junkudo prices, that's a habit costing me over $200 a month. It's hard to keep stocked. I've become a big fan of young adult books, which our school library has many of, and which our librarian is really good at ordering on my behalf. Shipments come in once every few months, and it is nerd party time when they do!
In what appears to be a non-sequitur but is actually a brilliant segue, our elementary art teacher is very creative. She had the students paint backdrops from famous artworks, and then photograph themselves into the picture. The pictures of the 3rd grade boy as the Mona Lisa are pretty righteous.
I chose to be photographed in Edvard Munch's The Scream. Then I had to explain why I was screaming.