20 November 2007

Stuff I've Been Reading 1


  • Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made - David Halberstam
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game - Feinstein/Auerbach
  • The Princess Bride - William Goldman
  • Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times - Kevin Smokler
  • Playing for Keeps
  • Let Me Tell You a Story
  • Firstborn (Dragonlance Elven Nations, Vol 1) - Thompson/Carter
  • Children of the Mind - Orson Scott Card
  • Black Hawk Down - Mark Bowden
  • About a Boy - Nick Hornby
Here's what I've been trying to figure out: how much should a book budget be? This past weekend I exited a bookstore with product in hand for the first time in months and it felt wonderful. The problem was, it also cost me $50 for four books -- two of which were in the bargain bin. Nowadays, that's just about a gallon of gas but still, books (especially bad ones) have a short shelf life. A fifteen dollar book will last what? Four to six hours?

I would like to set my book budget at $200 a month but when I stop to look at that number, it's the same amount as a month's worth of insurance, bills, or car payments. Let's say I make two thousand dollars a month, that figure would then represent ten-percent of my income. If I flipped that into a Roth IRA, I could be a millionaire in forty years or something.

But it's so much fun to buy books isn't it? Sure the library is cheaper and semi-convenient but the selection is never what one would like. Although I've heard that some libraries have organized themselves bookstore style, which seems like it would be pretty awesome.

The point is, how much is buying new books worth to me? Ten percent of my paycheck per month? Should I look for other (stimulating) alternatives? Netflix provides unlimited movies for a mere $20 a month; Internet is around the same; after fixed costs, a videogame is the most economically efficient form of entertainment around. So again, how much is literature worth?

My number one criteria for buying books for their retail price (in a bookstore) is re-readability. Am I likely to read this book multiple times? Then I should buy it. Also, is it a book that should be in my collection ten years from now? Auto-buy. The last kind of book I'll purchase in-store is one I just happen to stumble upon and don't have the patience to wait for it post-Amazon. These are often the dumbest buys of all time because it's like committing to a girl after the five minute meet and greet; totally hit or miss. Sometimes you have to judge a book by its cover (or blurb or title) right?

Since the basketball season's starting, I was forced to buy the Halberstam and Feinstein book just to gear me up for the Celtics' championship run ahead. Princess Bride made the cut because I've been told it's a true classic. After purchasing Bookmark Now and opening it up, I realized that the editor, Kevin Smokler, was on Lilly's pitch panel for the Ann Arbor Book Festival we attended in May. The local bookstore and my book life is starting to collide! It must mean I'll soon be a real author. Yes!