#81 - Books v Beers
A fair old sum, easily, and money saver
I compulsively buy books.
In far great quantities than I can read. It’s a not-insignificant outlay.
But you know what? It’s money well spent.
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A Fair Old Sum
Let’s start with how much exactly.
A scroll through my online order history gives £627.07 in 2022.
It’s May now so that’s in 4.5 months. I expect I’ve spent at least another £100 in physical bookshops.
£727.07 on books is a fair old sum. It’s certainly my biggest expense besides food and shelter. I reckon I’ve spent £50 on clothes in that timeframe.
But let’s break it down.
£727.07 / 4.5 is about £160 a month.
£160 on books every month. On track for £1,920 for the year.
That may sound ridiculously high to you, or it may even sound ridiculously low. It depends on your view of books. Everything is relative.
To put it in to perspective let me compare it with my largest expense once-upon-a-time: Beer.
I’ll ignore the related costs incurred. “Miscellaneous substances” don’t serve the purpose here. No, let’s stick to beer.
I’d be out for drinks, maybe, 3-4 times a week. Let’s say 3.
Of those days perhaps one would escalate.
The two “quiet” nights might be 4-5 pints. Catching up with friends and all that. An easy £25.
Then there were the big nights. No need to dwell on them. Little chance they stayed under £50. Normally much more. Let’s go with a still-conservative £75.
£25 + £25 + £75 = £125. Perhaps harsh to pin that all on beer, but alcohol as a whole? Easily.
£125 a week is £500 a month.
£500 a month. Yikes. It use to comfortably swallow my disposable income. The £160 on books doesn’t sound so bad.
And then there’s what you get for your cash.
For £500 I’d get good chunks of the week laid low with a hangover, and a regular battering of my dignity.
Books, as far as I can tell, give no hangover what so ever. They even have some benefits.
I’ve learnt more from books than perhaps anything else. Reading recharges me. It has improved my concentration, and comprehension. It’s made me a better thinker, albeit from a low base.
Here’s the kicker: I stopped drinking due to reading a book.
Based on the above numbers that decision has saved £15,000 in not-purchased beers. In the last 2.5 years. Not a bad investment.
But that’s one book! you might say. It’s £10, and you’re spending £160 a month! And, only reading a fraction of them.
Sure, I could have just bought that one book for £10. But I wouldn’t have. The only reason I bought it is because of my book buying and reading habits.
You never know which book will shake up your world. But some of them will, and it’s well worth buying the ticket to find out.
I’ll continue my book buying. It’s kept me out of trouble this far.
Who knows what many wonders are left to uncover.
Everything is subjective. Value is in the eye of the beholder. We live in a society where no one bats an eye at a £100 night out. But £100 on books and you’re off your rocker.
But the good news is it’s down to each of us how we value these things. There’s no right answer.
Maybe neither brings you joy and you’d rather stash surplus cash in a piggy bank. That’s fine too. You do you. No one can do it better.
H/t to George Orwell’s Books v Cigarettes
My Week in Books📚
Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf
The science of reading. It’s such an underrated activity. A wonderful book. It talks in depth about dyslexia. Super interesting. I’m a recovering dyslexic so this was comforting.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
So good. First time reading it. To publish it when he did (1945) was prescient to say the least. Bravo.
A Final Thought 💡
“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.”
― Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus