Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Books Are Good

In a few of the phone interviews I've done I was asked, if I could give just one piece of advice for preparedness, what would it be? My answer is, start a library.

Most of us have a traditional education - that is, most of us graduated from high school where we learned, mostly, academic lessons that would serve us well if we opted to continue our educations into college, and then work in a white-collar/professional position. For those who had a different path in mind, our traditional schooling is of little value in the greater scheme of things (once a person knows how to read, s/he can learn anything else s/he needs to know without having to wile away the days in a classroom, and I know this for fact, and not just theory, because it is the philosophy by which we currently live and teach our children).

This weekend our economy began a faster collapse. With the annoucement of the downgrade to the US credit rating, stock markets across the globe have plummeted. A colleague of Deus Ex Machina after stating that he lost thousands in his 401K, said that the "rules have changed, but we don't know what they are." Perhaps hoarding money in interest-bearing accounts is no longer the answer. We don't/can't know what the answer will be.

As I've said before, though, my house is not an asset, it's a shelter, and if I had the money to pay off the house, I would do it, even if it meant withdrawing all of my savings and having no "liquid" buffer. The reality is that, even if I used every penny in my 401K or savings accounts to pay off the house, I'd be saving over a thousand dollars per month not having to pay a mortgage, which means I could start saving that money. The other reality, the one that no one ever mentions, is that over the life of my house loan, if I paid it off now, I'd be saving HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars in interest payments.

I'm not a financial adviser, and I might regret my decision to have no back-up money, but worstcase scenario, if my house is paid off, and I lose my job or the stock market crashes, I still have a house.

If I have thousands of dollars in a 401K and a mortgage, and the stock market crashes, I could lose half my money, and if I also lose my job, I might lose my house.

The rules have changed, but we don't know what they are. We just know that they aren't what they were, and if we keep trying to live like it was yesterday, we're going to really suffer tomorrow.

Most of us never learned basic survival skills - even something as simple as darning a sock, and the way most of us will fill that gap is to read about how it's done and then put it to practice. In essence, most of us will learn what we need to know from books.

Books are good for more than just teaching skills, though. They can transport us to worlds that we might never have been able to explore were it not for the words on the page. We can meet amazing (and not so amazing) people and have incredible adventures with them. We can learn from their successes and mistakes, and as much as I love the real-life stuff, fiction is as much a part of my collection as all of the how-tos.

It's no secret that I love books. I talk about it all of the time, and as an author, I really couldn't be anything less than a bibliophile. I mean, if I don't believe in the importance of my "product", then why should anyone else?

Back in March, I hosted a month-long giveaway leading up to the April 1 release date of Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs: the Thrivalist's Guide to Life Without Oil, and one of the things I gave away was a box of books - all fiction and just for fun. Unfortunately, the winner of that box of books has never responded to me, and so I still have a box of books sitting on my office floor that I would really like to gift to someone who will appreciate them.

If you would like to enter a drawing for this lovely box of books, please leave a comment. I will select a winner by random drawing (names in a hat).


  1. I'm also a believer in having a personal library that covers all kinds of practical topics as well as fiction for fun. I'd love to win a box of books!

  2. I have soooo many books. But, I'm tempted by your big box... Do you have a school library or hospital or something nearby that could use them? Just a thought. :-)
    I'm finished with yours BTW. I really liked it, I keep meaning to get on Amazon and leave a nice review for it.

  3. I'm all for a box of books! Count me in!

  4. I love books of all kinds. I have been slowly adding to our little "library" and would love to add more to it!

  5. Books are fantastic! Are there any in there that would interest young boys?

    Sign me up for the drawing, please!

  6. I agree with you 100% about having a library. I am continuing to build mine as I come across books I love and can afford.

    And as to darning socks - how many people would even have a darning needle? Not to mention darning wool (nice and fine). I still even have my darning mushroom that I used to use back in the 1970s. For those who don't know about darning mushrooms - they are a mushroomed shape piece of wood with a handle you slide into your sock so it is the right shape to darn.

  7. As someone who is trying to weed down her cookbook collection (everything that is not vintage or focused on vintage food, or traditional ethnic foods, or vegetables, is out), I tentatively ask to be entered into this drawing. We've got a large reference book collection (mostly, I confess, books on food and history, but we are a pair of historians), but are a little thin on the fiction. I'm always game for new books! And any ones we don't like or read and are done with, we'll donate to the library to put on the shelves or to sell.

  8. Your posts always make me think, Wendy. I would love to partake of your books. :o)

  9. Have your book and it's very good. Can't seem to grow vegetables (weeds) but we're about ready for the future. Passed most of the 21 day course. Currently reading "The End of Growth" by R. Heinberg - scary! Re: debt/mortgage - there's no greater feeling than being totally debt free! Caution - when you use IRA to pay off debt you may have to pay tax + penalty. Russ

  10. HI Wendy,

    I'm shocked that no one followed up on the book drawing! I'm always happy to add books to my collection. :)

    I am in a similar debate with my other along the same lines with finances. The stock market is pretend money, as far as I'm concerned. I can still live here and grow food.

    Russ, I'm also reading that book....trying to get SO to read as well. The tax penalty, which scares many folks, seems so trivial in the long run.

    Now, to just get what's in my mind, out of my mouth in a coherent way!


  11. @ Russ - thank you. I'm very happy that you're enjoying the book ;). And you can't know how thrilling it is to note that there are folks out there, who really are trying to make positive changes in their lives. So, thank you for chiming in ;). I really love hearing about other people's experiences. It's why I have comments enabled ;).

    With regard to the IRA pentalties, though, while it is true that the government will take their cut, in my thinking, if the pentalites do not exceed the interest over the life of the mortgage, it makes more sense to pay off the mortgage rather than keeping the savings account.

    But it's a difference in philosophy. I plan to live in my house for the rest of my life, and I'm planning to will my house to one of my children. It's not an "asset", but one of the several things I need to continue living (shelter). I realize that not everyone feels that way about their houses ;).

  12. Count me in, please! I love books (although I'm going to have to do something like this soon myself as I keep buying new ones at yard sales and am running out of room!)

    I also think your comments are behaving oddly. I commented yesterday and it didn't post.


    teresanoelleroberts @ verizon DOT net

  13. @ Patricialynn - I'll be honest. It's a box of fiction that I collected and packed up several months ago, and so I'm not really 100% positive about what's in there. I will say that it's mostly "classics" - and I did take some time to really think about the books.

    Oh, now that I think about it, there is one really good book for younger people (I think :) - Watership Down by Richard Adams. My ravenous reader (who is a young teen) read it last year and LOVED it. I'm pretty sure I included a copy of it in the box.

  14. Please enter me in the drawing...one can never have too many books. ^_^

  15. Please enter me in the contest Wendy. You know I love books and have even started writing my own library software to catalog them all.

  16. I'm in Canada, and not sure if that works for you for a giveaway like this, but if it does, I'd love to be entered. While I've been very focused on building up my reference library, I'm also trying to make sure I have copies of my favourite fiction so I have some escapist reading as well.

  17. Never can have too many books! Michyrj@aol.com

  18. Books are Good. Count me in.

  19. I love books! My own collection of skill orientated books is steadily growing.... :)

  20. You make an excellent point regarding paying off your shelter. In a post-collapse economy, a bank account will be useless, but a home will be priceless.

    Please include me in the drawing. Thanks!