It’s quite reasonable to target luxuries first. Maybe you’ll eat out less often, cut down on trips to the movies, try and get a little more wear out of those shoes.
But as the economic climate becomes increasingly inclement, it’s time to turn your attention to those items you might, in more prosperous times, have considered essential. One such essential item might be books.
Books are important. Books are good for us. Books exercise our intellect, stimulate our imagination and broaden our inner horizons. Books are hardly a luxury. They’re as essential as food, water, medicine, clothing and shelter.
But books are also expensive.
Even if you’re just working your way through one or two £7 or £8 paperbacks each week, within a year you’ll have spent somewhere in the region of £600 on books. That’s a lot of money, particularly when circumstances are financially challenging and belt-tightening is the order of the day.
Thankfully, there is a way you can reduce your spend on books without cutting down on your reading. In fact, you can completely eliminate your annual spend on books and actually increase the number of books you read.
How? Use your local library.
It’s free and even a relatively small library will contain several thousand titles.
It will require something of an adjustment, particularly if you’re the kind of reader who likes to devour the latest offering from your favourite author, or if you’re the kind of reader who responds swiftly to the most recent recommendation from the likes of Oprah’s Book Club. It can be difficult (but far from impossible) to get your hands on books that are hot off the press or books that have suddenly become flavour of the month, thanks to a celebrity endorsement or the awarding of a prestigious literary prize. The only thing you can do is make sure you get in line first; otherwise, you’ll have to join the waiting list. The book you’re after will be available sooner than you think.
If you’re a patient individual, however, the rewards for using your local library are considerable.
Because you don’t have to spend any money, you can broaden your literary horizons, picking up books that you wouldn’t necessarily have considered if you’d had to shell out £8 or more for the privilege. You might suddenly find yourself enchanted by a whole new genre, or in thrall to an author you’d previously considered uninteresting (or certainly not interesting enough to warrant the expenditure). If you pick up a book that turns out to be something of a disappointment, you can just bring it back. It doesn’t cost you a cent. Consequently, you’ll become more adventurous in your reading, with all the cerebral benefits that that will undoubtedly bring.
Book stores, even the vast sprawling catalogues of the online book stores, don’t stock books that are out of print. Libraries are full of out of print books. Many of these books are lost treasures, only out of print because of the whims of fashion, poor marketing or just plain bad luck. Nobody ever stumbled across a lost literary gem in a book store.
If you’re a particularly voracious reader, no doubt common sense already keeps your appetite for the written word under control, preventing you from diving headlong into debt. When you use your local library, you don’t have to limit yourself. Because you’re not spending any money, you can positively gorge yourself, reading as many books as you can cram into your free time.
Then there’s the library itself, a peaceful retreat from the commercial world of piped music and demanding, in-your-face advertising. In the library you can lose yourself in literary worlds, undisturbed by the clatter and chaos of the world beyond.
All in all, using your local library isn’t a bad way to save yourself a few hundred pounds.