The Frugal ReaderFebruary 6, 2009 at 10:39 pm | Posted in Book Blather | 5 Comments
Our recent discussion on buying books has got me intrigued. I suspect that there’s a significant overlap in the Venn diagram between voracious readers and frugal spenders. I thought I’d ask my readers: what do you think?
Have you ever bought books with your food money?
Do you spend more on books than on utilities?
Do you have more books than furniture, by weight? By cost?
Frugality is a question of spending intentionally so as to be able to afford a particular lifestyle on limited resources. For instance, I choose to live without a car so that I can pay off my student loans early. If I stay on track I should be done ten years early (consolidated with a 15-year term), so to me, it’s worth it. My brother, on the other hand, values cars more, so for many years he worked two jobs to afford his dream car and all the trimmings. (Custom chrome gas pedal, anyone?) He plays offense; I play defense. We are both careful spenders.
If you’re frugal, you have a sort of seventh sense for the tradeoffs involved in spending or earning money one way over another. You can take one look at something like a sixpack-size mini-fridge, avoid laughing so hard you spray your drink everywhere, and walk on by without even thinking about taking out your wallet. You have methods for squeezing the last dregs out of every jar and tube. You can automatically calculate the per-year cost of your friend’s daily spending habits, like lattes or *gasp* cigarettes. You have a formal philosophy about things like spatulas and duct tape.
If you’re as frugal as me, you often can’t figure out where to buy something because you’re so rarely in any store for anything other than groceries, so you wind up doing without. Your holiday wish list includes items like baking pans and postage stamps. You accidentally touch your emergency credit card and start breaking into hives. You’ve made the Abe Lincoln on the penny weep tiny copper tears.
I think frugality and reading go hand in hand for many reasons. For one, people who have expensive habits might not have the patience to be heavy readers. People who do read understand that reading is more than just an inexpensive habit, though. We know that reading enriches us, teaching us new things, expanding our vocabularies, and raising our IQs. (It also doesn’t hurt when your boss catches you reading a history book in the lunch room and confesses that he’s writing a book about the same period). A book can do more than smash a spider or insulate a room. It can take you to the kingdom of the mind, where material possessions fade to insignificance.
Does frugality make a reader, or does reading tend to make one frugal? Do we lean toward reading because it’s one of the best and cheapest ways to spend our free time? Or do we gain some kind of perspective from reading that makes us less interested in shopping?
Frugal readers, weigh in and let me know what you think.