May 10, 2006
What was the best purchase you ever made?
What was the best purchase you ever made? Maybe I should define that a little bit, make the parameters a little more exact. How about comparing amount of money paid for the object to amount of hours of enjoyment it returned. Of course this is all a setup. I have a purchase in mind already. A couple years ago, at an annual used book sale I attend each year, I picked up a book and added it to my sack of other goodies. The rationale at used book sales is different than the rules buying at a bookstore. At a bookstore the costs are prohibitively high so your selection process is much more strict. If you’re paying out twenty-five bucks and more per pop, you know you have to be convinced that you are buying the corresponding amount of enjoyment per dollar spent, not always easy.
But at a used book sale the fun is put back into the process. At twenty-five cents for a paperback and fifty cents to a dollar for the hardcover, it is all changed. You can buy a book because you once read something by the same author and enjoyed it, so maybe you will like this one by the same guy. Or perhaps the cover art grabs you, or the title interests you, whatever, if it grabs you, pick it up and toss it into your grocery store size bag, which are kindly provided by the hosts of the sale so you will keep browsing and adding to the bags contents. It is one of the best hours I spend each year rummaging through books that were once pristine and full of promise to the buyer. Now they are here among other much used or slightly used compatriots being once again analyzed for their worth. Which brings up another buying point; is a book in immaculate condition a better choice than the other which has obviously been much handled or ill-kept, is that a clue to its value? The answer is yes or no because, of course, there is no answer. But every once in a while luck enters the process and a book will be picked up by the person it was meant for. This happened to me once.
The best purchase I ever made, using the cost versus enjoyment-received criteria, was the book I mentioned in the first paragraph. It was the book titled, TO SERVE THEM ALL MY DAYS, by R.F. DELDERFIELD. I love this book. I have read it twice now, and the second reading was a good or better than the first. I suppose judgment of a books value is subjective and not objective. It meets your internal value system or it doesn’t. It’s as easy as that.
It is a book of over six hundred pages and I am a reader of each word, versus the fast reader who gulps paragraphs at a time, so the amount of time to read the entire book is not really calculable, but many, many hours to read the whole work is a fair statement. I enjoyed each and every hour I spent on it, each time, and all for twenty-five cents, picked up at the used book sale. This was the best purchase I ever made.