You probably have a container or display unit somewhere in your house with beautiful books you haven’t touched in years. You are proud when a guest or date remarks on your growing collection, a monument to the intelligent person you could have become. Today’s life tip will smash down that monument and turn you into a more practical person that does not waste trees or money.

When I want to read a book, I do not purchase it. I go to the bookstore, find it on the shelf, and start reading. When I am done with a session after an hour or so I take out my notepad and write down what page I’m on. When I return, I grab the book again (I already know where it is) and repeat the process until I finish it. I have most recently done this with Blink, Freakonomics, and Purple Cow. I recently started on Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

There are four advantages of my mooch system:

1. It’s free. Bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders are so large and impersonal that you are not spotted as a moocher. Money saved a year = $400 (two books a month).

2. It forces you to only read the best. You are surrounded with so many good options that you never have to commit yourself to a bad book. Your time in the bookstore is limited so you don’t want to waste it.

3. It allows you to pretend you have a life by getting out of the house. Plus you can stare at that one hot girl employee who stocks the travel section by going up and down those step-stool things. And then she bends over to add the new Fodors edition of Western Europe and you can just make out that she is wearing Victoria’s Secret underwear.

4. Access to sweets. Mediocre espresso drinks and baked goods trucked in from a mystery factory are just a few feet away.

I do have principles: I return the book to the shelf when I’m done and am very careful not to damage the book. If I really like the book I will buy it so the author can be rewarded for his or her work. This hasn’t happened yet but I’m sure it will some day.

I would borrow books from the library, but have you noticed the condition they’re in? You know some dude was reading that copy of Rich Dad, Poor Dad in the bathroom after jerking off. No thanks.


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