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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Reading: A Frugal Gift

Yesterday, in my first post-hurricane post, I listed the books I read without--and then with--power. I have often felt that the greatest gift given me is my love of reading. Unlike Mr FS, I did not grow up in a house of readers. In fact, though doing well in school was encouraged, I sometimes thought that my family thought reading was--well--unproductive. I remember sidling up to my mother as she was in conference with my 4th grade teacher. I expected to (over)hear praise for my fine grades. Instead, I heard a discussion of how I "read too much" and needed to "go outside more to play." I was stunned. How could the activity that brought me so much happiness be so devalued?

As is no doubt obvious, I also get a lot of pleasure from frugality--for its own sake as well as for necessity. What--in our time and my place--could be more frugal than reading? The first frugal tip one hears is USE THE LIBRARY. And yes, the library has computers, and dvds, and pizza parties for teens, all of which are great helps to frugality, but the biggest savings comes from books. And what use is that if you don't like to read?

While reading may be a very inexpensive pastime, travel is not. I once asked Mr FS why his parents didn't travel more, even in their long retirement. He said it was because (he thought) his father liked reading so much, that he traveled in the mind. Like Thoreau: I have traveled much in Concord. At least I think that's what Thoreau said (my expert, Mr FS, is in his little shed, where he reads). The internet provides various versions of the Thoreau quotation: I have traveled A GOOD DEAL, I have traveled WIDELY. Whatever.

I am not quite ready to travel exclusively in that way just yet! In fact, much of my frugality is in the service of saving up for the big travel expense of next summer.

These meanderings were prompted by some internet travel as I read about Marilynne Robinson, author of the three books I read over the past week. I found a wonderful interview with her in the Paris Review. What an interesting person: she reads so much more widely than I do.

Here is the end of the interview: on reading and travel.


Do you feel like there’s something you’ve missed out on in life?


There’s always something that I feel I’ve missed. I should travel more, for instance. I went to Paris last fall, which was a great departure for me. I flew Air India, which in itself was quite remarkable. I had a lovely time in France and I thought, I should do this more often. But then I come home and I think, I have all of this work to do. Look at all of these books I haven’t read. Frankly, you get to a certain point in your life where you can do unusual things with your mind. So then, I think, do them.

Ahhh, something to look forward to. After our next trip--we hope to Vienna, Budapest, and ????. With a stop in Paris, of course.

In the meantime, I want to start on Robinson's non-fiction, including this, which she seems to think is her most important book.


SewingLibrarian said...

This is a great post!!

Shelley said...

I enjoy travelling, don't get me wrong, but we travel mainly because Bill wants to do it. We're done for this year except taking the motorhome over to the Lake District to attend a family wedding, but it looks like next year will be very busy. I am quite happy to stay at home and read, putter, cook, sew, watch videos, blog, research family history, write emails, go to sewing classes, take photographs, etc. For me, staying at home all day is a big luxury - I hated having to go out into the world every morning to go to work. The motorhome is a bit of a compromise because I can stay 'home' and read and Bill and go out and explore if he wishes.

Frugal Scholar said...

@SL--Love librarians!

@Shelley--Thanks for the reminder that we all like different things. It is soo hard to remember thta,