Jul 20, 2023

Why do I buy so many books?

 I have got this question a few times - "Why do you buy so many books? Aren't they expensive? How can you spend so much on books?"

Firstly, when you look at the pics of my home library, you would see a lot of books, but these are carefully picked and collected over the last 21 years.

Secondly, it is all about what we value and what our priorities are. Continuous learning and seeking knowledge is one of my core values. I consider books as an investment. I have loved reading since childhood, but we couldn't afford to buy books apart from school textbooks. So when I started earning, I wished to have my own home library. Wrote about this earlier in my World Book Day post.

Also, when we wish to prioritize certain categories of discretionary expenses (investment for me, but let's consider "books" as an expense category here), the other categories get deprioritized.

Below is the list of personal expenses I avoid:

  • Branded clothes
  • Branded accessories (bags, footwear)
  • Makeup products
  • Salon services
  • Jewellery (gold, diamond, silver)
  • Silk sarees and other expensive designer wear
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Nonveg food
  • Packaged foods
  • Imported fruits/veggies/salad greens
  • Eating out in fancy restaurants
  • Gym memberships/Personal Trainer services
  • Movie theatres and expensive popcorn (I go to the movie theatre max 1-2 times a year, depending on the movie release. I avoid buying any snacks in multiplex)
  • International vacations
  • Home Decor
  • Expensive Stationery
  • Gadgets and devices (smartwatch, AirPods, iPad/tablet)

It isn't my intention to label these categories of expenses as right/wrong. It is just that these categories neither bring me joy nor feature as a priority. Also, these are the expenses that I avoid and my family members may or may not.

I remember reading an article by Ryan Holiday where he says that if you are reading non-fiction, it is better to own the books instead of borrowing them from the library and returning them after a few days. A non-fiction book becomes your individual expression with the points you highlight, the thoughts you jot down in the margins, and the bookmarks you add on specific pages. Moreover, there is a high probability that you might end up re-reading a good non-fiction book after some time or referring to it when a sudden question pops up.

Every decision we make - be it finances, health, energy, lifestyle, parenting, and career - is tied to our values, our priorities, and how we balance them.

P.S. I have a monthly budget for books purchase. Also, I prefer to pick up books in the price range of around Rs.200-300. 

Books that cost more than Rs.300-400 are usually parked for later to evaluate if there is real value in them.

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