Field of Science

The Looming Book Tower

After some scary experiences with my blogger dashboard disappearing, I discovered the simple solution; log in using the correct account name...

One of the most valuable lessons I learnt from this trip home was a simple but invaluable back-of-the-envelope calculation that my father did for me, that reminded me of the cute Fermi problems which the great physicist was famous for solving. Essentially the calculation revolved around Why I Should Not Buy Any More New Books.

Let's say I own 100 books (a ludicrous underestimate)
Let's say each one has 300 pages on average (another fatuous miscalculation)
Let's say my 'reading life' extends for another 30 years (plausible if not certain)

30 years, 30,000 pages...boils down to 1000 pages per year, which is roughly 3 pages per day of old and existing books.

The italicised and underlined last phrase is key: most of the times, we spend time reading new books, not old ones. In addition, I am constantly surprised by the fact that when I promptly buy a book because I have been bowled over by it, curiously, I almost never end up reading it in the next one year, and certainly not with the same enthusiasm. A good prescription might be to not read a book for two years, and then decide whether to buy it or not based on the level of enthusiasm you still possess.

So I have decided that for now, at least until I am an impecunious graduate student, I am not going to actually buy new books from, unless they are desperately needed technical books that the library does not have.

Several benefits emphatically exist:
1. I save money (trivial point which sometimes annoyingly turns crucial)
2. I don't end up paying 1000$ for moving charges when I leave this city after I finish up
3. I do the library a great service (they have already told me that I am their hottest customer- unfortunately only in a bibliophilic sense)

1 comment:

  1. Once in a while I want to look something up in a book I read and then I notice that the book is already at the library again. then I wish I would have bought the book. but I have to say that I have never bought a big chemistry book


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