Sunday, October 14, 2007

Shooting an Elephant & Other Essays

Today is a rest day for me. So, I tried to catch up with some readings as the pile of books I bought recently are catching dusts and mites.

Since I do not want to have any serious readings, I got hold of this book by George Orwell, "Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays."

It wasn't exactly an outstanding book, but I like to borrow the term he used: "Good Bad Book", that is, the kind of book that has no literary pretensions but which remains readable when more serious productions have perished.

It was, to me, an escape literature where my mind browse at odd chapters. I like what Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell his pen name) said: "While civilization remains such that one needs distraction from time to time, 'light' literature has its appointed place." This book is, for me, one of them.

There was one chapter that strikes me much: "Books v Cigarettes." Here, Eric reveals his estimates of how much money he spent on books. The hypothesis is that 'buying books is an expensive hobby and beyond the reach of average person which deserves some detailed examination.

Exactly what reading costs, reckoned in terms of dollars and cents per day, is difficult to estimate. According to Eric, he probably possess some 900 books (collected over a period of 15 years) which was estimated to have cost him some £166. Including other costs, the average expenses per year is £25 which is equivalent to about 83 cigarettes. Eric concluded that, "he is spending far more on tobacco than he did on books."

I am a smoker and I love buying books, regularly. But it never cross my mind to make a direct cost comparative study on this two hobbies. I think, I should and I too love to do so now.

As for me, I spent an average of about RM9,000 a year on books from the period 1997-2004. In the last 3 years, the average had gone down to about RM6,000 per annum. Let me just use RM6,000 as a baseline for tabulation. That works out to be about RM500 a month, RM17 a day which is equivalent to 2 packets of 20-stick cigarettes.

Oh, I didn't smoke 2-packets a day, but not too far off. But the likelihood that I will be scaling down on my cost of books procurement would sooner match the cost - cost of cigarette consumption = cost of books procurement.

How much is your cost of cigarette v books, or liquor v books, or cosmetics v books, or clothings v books? This looks like a good assessment of our expenditure vs knowledge acquisition.

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