Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Hello Dear Readers,
First of all, thank you for all of the heartfelt, insightful comments on yesterday's post. Just when I'm starting to lose faith in this blog and feel like I'm writing these words in a vacuum, you surprise and strengthen me. Each and every comment here is a gift, whether you agree with what I have to say or not.
Before I continue this Crawling Out of the Big Black Hole series on debt, I have some very positive news to share. When this year began, I'd hoped to be out of debt by December. Then my hot water tank burst. The threat of flooding this spring required the expensive installation of a sump pump. My furnace needed repair. The bad luck seemed never-ending, and it looked like 2011 was not going to be my year. But with a lot of hard work, and quite a bit of luck, I am thrilled to report that--unless my roof suddenly caves in--I will be out of debt by the end of this summer, or even before! I am so excited and pleased about this. It took some sacrifices and a lot of adjustment, but it was so worth it. I only wish I'd started sooner.
That said, let's talk about my other addiction, which isn't harmful to anything but my bottom line. Since I was old enough to have my very first library card, I've been addicted to the printed word. When I was a child, I read every single book that was of any interest to me from my small town's public library. From my school's library. From my mother's collection (I'm surprised she let me read some of that stuff--Jackie Collins was pretty racy). It was nearly impossible to keep me in books, and I didn't have many of my own, so I contented myself with constantly re-reading old favourites. And not just that--I read the backs of cereal boxes, waded through cookbooks and women's magazines. I read everything I could get my hands on. When books got passed through school, they usually stopped at me, and I confess I might still have a few schoolbooks somewhere. I was insatiable.
We didn't have a bookstore in my little town, so when I stepped into my first McNally Robinson in the city, I thought I was in heaven. I could easily spend $1,000 on books within an hour, and still not have satisfied my wordlust.
When I got serious about getting out of debt, I dusted off my library card and tried to get my fix for free. You're allowed nearly unlimited books here, so I would fill my basket so full I was barely able to cart them home. In spite of the pressure of having to read them all by a deadline, this seemed to work until...(SENSITIVE READERS SHOULD SKIP TO THE NEXT GRAPH) I borrowed a book that someone had repeatedly used as a Kleenex. It was so disgusting that, since returning it and informing the personnel, I haven't been back. I realize that this is most likely a very rare occurrence, but it sickened me, and after hearing from a friend who used to work there about all the other gross things discovered in the books, it might not be rare enough for me.
Still, it wasn't a problem. I had a pile of books waiting to be read, and I promised myself that I would only buy the books of my writer friends until I was out of debt. People like Barbara Ross, a wonderful woman who had just released her debut novel The Death of an Ambitious Woman, deserved the support of their friends. How many friends could possibly release books in 2010 and 2011? I was certain I could support all of them and still live within my means. However, when I took stock of my spending at the end of the year, I was shocked to see that--even with all the cutting back--I had still spent over a thousand dollars on books and magazines. Yikes! And no, they weren't all written by friends--there went that resolution.
I'm a junkie for new words, but I've discovered the joy of used words. A delicious way to spend a weekend afternoon is prowling used bookstores and sales with a fellow addict. Anything you find on these trips truly feels like treasure, and is so much more appreciated for the time spent on the hunt.
Now that I'm nearly out of debt and have some savings to spare, I've indulged in a special treat for my upcoming birthday: the complete series of Time-Life's Mysteries of the Unknown. Remember those books? I longed for them when I was a kid, and can see them inspiring a lot of intriguing stories, if not novels.
Any other book junkies out there? Feel free to stand up and declare your addiction--this blog isn't exactly anonymous, but it is supportive. What was the best book you read recently? How do you balance your budget while still fulfilling your lust for literature? What's the best treasure you found in a used bookstore or sale?
Posted by J.H. Moncrieff at 5:00 AM