Monday, March 16, 2009

There's always money for books

One of the first lessons I taught my daughter was that whatever the economic situation, you could always scrounge up enough money to buy books. Maybe not a first edition or a new hardback but something to feed soul and mind on the $1 rack – always.

Food and shelter are true necessities and certainly must be dealt with every single day. Fortunately, we always had enough pennies to cover those two basics. But if we hadn’t I could’ve always stood on the street corner holding a “Will work for food” sign. There are, after all, safety nets in the public and private sector that – though not easy or ideal – accommodate the need for food and shelter. I’m not sure holding a sign that reads “Will work for books” would get me any takers.

At the lowest financial ebb, walking into a bookstore or up to a box of books at a yard sale can give you the strength to carry on. The main thing it does, I think, is infuse you with a feeling of impeding possibility where none might have existed before. Somewhere amidst all that written-down stuff is the very thing you need to move on, move up. A story you’ve never heard before. A fantasy character that shows you a way to soar again. A turn of phrase that changes your defeat into the possibility of success. A description of something you want to attain. Such opportunity and hope in a load of books!

Yes, a library can do the same thing, sort of, but sooner or later – if you’re a good library patron – you have to give the book back. There’s something about owning the book that increases the soul-feeding possibilities, I believe. I don’t want to give the book back. Once I read it, it becomes a part of me – of my options, goals, action-plan, and I need to own it.

Yep, there’s always money for books. There has to be.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

To quote Desiderius Erasmus, “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”

Liz said...

Amen to that.

I had a few minutes to spare today and popped into a charity shop: I came out with three books. Two mysteries and The Low GI Diet book, which I read as I worked my way through a packet of Cadburys Fingers. Well, they were less than half price! Giving me the money to buy the book!

jomoore said...

I'm a committed book-buyer myself, but in these times of dire financial straits, I decided to join the library. And I'm very glad I did. The library has enabled me to keep reading and to also try new authors (which I'm not very good at usually). I'm not a risk-take by nature, so the thought of committing any of my not-very-spare cash to a book that I might not enjoy is a tricky one. If I don't want to keep it on my bookshelf, I don't want to buy it - that's my new rule. And I've read books that I never would have bought - some authors I've never heard of, some I've always felt I ought to try, some guilty pleasures.
Of course, more funds and more space would mean I'd have a library of my very own!