A $38,500 first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird

Alexis Contant may spend her days amid the world’s most luxurious furniture and fabrics, but what the Boston Design Center VP covets most is a library of her own rare books by American authors—and the time to read them. Her most prized volume would be a first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird, the book that introduced her to the power of literature.

“I remember sinking into my dad’s chair when I was 12 and getting completely immersed in the story. Scout Finch’s father was a lawyer just like mine, and the narrative was beautiful. Now each time I sit down with a potentially life-changing book, I think of that moment when I discovered fiction,” she says wistfully.

Since the novel’s original 1960 print run yielded only 5,000 copies, mint first editions are awfully rare, says book dealer Matthew Raptis; most volumes went to libraries or were heavily used. The (borrowed) book shown here is a reproduction of one of the few surviving mint-condition texts signed by Harper Lee.