"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Monday, April 3, 2017

Literature in the News: Spending $1,200 in One Day on Books

I’m not very familiar with the economic news site Quartz but it has popped up a couple of times on news summary sites for me.  And here’s an interesting article that just came up on me, titled. “I spent $1,200 on books in one day—and it was a totally worthwhile career investment.”  

How much was the most you have ever spent on books in a day?  I don’t remember for me, but I’m sure it was a couple of hundred dollars.  College text books were expensive even back when I went to college, and I’m sure I bought a number of them at one time.  I bet today they must run a couple of hundred dollars each, so racking up a thousand dollar bill would not be unusual.  The article is a personal essay written by a Shane Parrish:

A few days ago I ordered 61 books, most of which you’ve probably never heard of. I didn’t even flinch when Amazon stopped incrementing my shopping cart at 50 items. And the final tally of $1,201.40 represents only a small percentage of the money I routinely spend on books in any given year.

So this wasn’t exactly a purchase of text books.  Sixty-one books into $1201.40 averages $19.70 per book, so that must be mostly upper-end paperbacks.  Why did he buy so many books?  Well, he must have the same compulsive behavior as I do when it comes to books.

 You might ask why I spend so much money on books when I could just borrow them from a library. First, my local library is unlikely to have all the books I want to read (more on that later). Second, when I’m reading a good book, I want to read it actively. I want to write in the margins. I want to make notes. I want to make it my own. If you get a library book, you can’t do that.

I buy every book I want, with few exceptions. As someone who reads over 100 books a year and has an anti-library with thousands of titles that I haven’t read, I can assure you my habit gets expensive. Yet this doesn’t bother me at all.

That’s exactly how I feel and exactly what I do!  I write in the margins of every book I own.  But what’s the economic angle to this habit?

Books contain a vast amount of knowledge, and knowing what most other people don’t know is how I make a living. While books can be expensive, ignorance is costlier.

That’s fascinating.  I would have to agree.  I’ve probably been promoted at work because I sound more learned than the next guy.  Actually I believe I think better than the next guy because vast amounts of learning seem to help me think through issues and organize material.  Mr. Parrish also seems to buy books only for them to collect dust.

I might not read every book I buy. I might never even crack the spine on a few of them. They might turn out to be a waste of money. But I keep spending money on them because I know the right book may change my life.

Yes, I have that same nagging feeling.  Does anyone else have that same sort of book compulsion?

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