The major project I’m taking on during this time that I have off is to finally declutter everything that I’ve put off decluttering for the last – oh – lots of years. Fortunately, there hasn’t been a build-up of crap in the last 12 years or so since I kind of generally just stopped buying things I wasn’t going to use right away. In my decluttering frenzy method, I did come across a box of old tax records from almost 15 years ago. I’m really quite impressed with the state of my accounting records at the time. I spent a lot of time recording minutiae.
Unfortunately, not a lot of time was spent stepping back and analyzing it to look at the big picture – that I was spending more than I made.
A lot of that spending was on books – in many months it was upwards of $200 per month, every month. And I see there were quite a lot of library fines in that time period too – that’s what happens when you reach the upper limit of 99 books able to be withdrawn in a 3 week time period and can’t keep track of them all. (Yeah, I read them all – I read kind of fast.)
My oldest son has inherited my book addiction. Even during my brokest periods, if he wanted a book – I bought it. The difference between him and me (apart from the last year or so) is that he keeps all of his old books and I give mine away. He has somewhere around 1000 books in his collection and I have about 300 “keepers”. There’s about 80 books in my “to be read” dedicated bookshelf alone. A box off that shelf goes go with me when we travel and I give them away along the journey.
I keep my addiction in check by having a buying limit of one book a month – always non-fiction. I no longer buy fiction but put in a request to my library to stock any fiction titles I’m interested in that they don’t already have. My “rule” is to check every book out of the library first – if it’s something I think I’ll want to refer to again, I’ll buy it.
The oldest kid has decided that he wants to become a minimalist. He’s been reading Thoreau and Epictetus. I think he already is a minimalist by definition – he’s a 23 year old bachelor that lives in his mother’s basement. So I think he’s going to spend some bucks converting most of the books he owns into digital versions which seems wonky to me. Does it make sense that you should have to spend money replacing something you already own in a different format in order to embrace minimalism? You still have the “stuff”, it’s just in a portable format. Maybe he’s just dreading the thought of moving out and packing up all those books.
But just look at Christopher Hitchen’s study and that wonderful stack of books. It’s a thing of beauty.
I broke my “one book buying rule” on our little journey down south this summer when I came across the close-out of a Borders store in Montana. I picked up a couple of writing books and this recipe book:
The Take-Out Menu Cookbook – this is an excellent book for anyone who’s into cookbook p0rn like I am. You can save a ton of time on some of your favourites by making up a batch of sauce for a dish like Pad Thai and freezing it in individual containers. Total cost to make the sauce is under a buck compared to a jar from the store that runs around $4.
I whittled down my recipe book collection by putting all my recipe books outside of my kitchen on a bookshelf for a year. If I used them, they remained in my kitchen and whatever was left after a year got packed off to my local freebie book swap center. I eliminated over 60 cookbooks in the great cookbook purge of 2010. This is sort of like First Gen American’s pantry method – which I’m going to start applying. Soon.
Hey, Amazon has a sale on for some free kindle books (courtesy of dailycheapreads.com).
PS – I highly recommend “Getting the Words Right.” Too bad I already bought it at Borders this summer. But hey! Now I have an electronic copy too!