For those finding it difficult to justify the purchase of new books, Sam Jordison in The Guardian examines a good suggestion - hitting your to-read pile. Most of us have such piles. I think I have several, all teetering like the Tower of Pisa in various corners of the house. I say 'I think' since I am, naturally, in deep denial about the extent of the to-read pile. But when you have people constantly suggesting books you should read to be better informed, it's the inevitable conclusion.
Keeping in mind the economy drive, however, I will clarify here that I'm fine with students borrowing books from libraries or obtaining second hand copies, whatever edition they be. I often feel a pang of guilt as I consider the current bookshop cost of reading lists I put out. There are alternatives to bright shiny new books and it doesn't hurt to check out a library copy before deciding whether it's a book you'll want to keep. Particularly if you're on a budget.
Incidentally, The Guardian also has a clip of Philip Pullman reading Paradise Lost here. As most of you know, Paradise Lost was a major influence upon His Dark Materials. It's worth a listen.