I’ve made a BIG frugality exception to own a 400-plus book collection. AND to house them in a dedicated library. Even if the books only cost around $5 each on average, I’ve still spent thousands on having a book collection. But my books mean more than money. Here’s why.
I read a lot. I started keeping track of how much in June 2006. Since then, I have read an average of 25 books a year. That is 225 books since I began to keep count. The thing is that I buy the books. And I keep the books after I have read them. That is definitely not the frugal way to do my reading. But I have made a conscious choice not to be frugal about this. Here are my reasons.
The public library would be the frugal way to go. I am less than 5 miles away from the local public library. I have a perfectly good library card. I go to the library just about every week to check out DVDs. And I am sure there are plenty of library books I would enjoy reading. But I do not read books from the library because I do not just read books.
I collect books. Not rare books or first editions or anything like that. What I do is “thematic” book collecting. I have a nonfiction book collection covering pretty much the entire historical scope and breadth of ancient Greece, ancient Rome, ancient Egypt, ancient Near East civilizations, New World Indian civilizations, medieval Europe and the Viking age. My military history book collection pretty well covers World Wars I and II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, the American War of Independence and Civil War — as well as the American-Mexican war, the British-Zulu war and a few others. Add to that my biographies. And top it off with a fiction book collection that captures the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, Agatha Christie and more. That is a lot of books. Over 400 books. I must be keeping them for a reason.
I love having books. That is my bottom line. I love being surrounded by books. I love sitting down to read among books. I love being able to browse my book collection to select what I will read next from the 200-plus books on my shelves that I have yet to even open.
In a special place. I do not just have 400+ books scattered around the house. I have a room dedicated to my book collection. A comfortable reading room with built-in bookcases organized by topic. When I was a young kid, I loved going to the library. And now I love the fact that I have a library. A true library! And I have been and continue to be willing to unfrugally put a lot of my money into it.
Money is (almost) no object. The money to pay for my book collecting has always come from my discretionary fund. That has been true for the roughly $2000 that the books have cost as well as the $1000 or so it has taken to build the bookcases. Yes, I have been smart about getting good value for that money. After all, my average cost per book is a modest 5 bucks. But that does not change the fact that I have spent the money on an emotional want.
And that $3000 does not include the biggest expense connected to my books. I have bought an entire room to house those books! According to my home insurance policy, it would cost just over $15,000 to replace that room. So in total I have sunk at least $18,000 into book reading when I could have done it for free. But, of course, it isn’t just about reading at all… is it?
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