Ten pounds doesn’t go far these days. Having a tenner used to be a world of opportunity. A ticket to choice, discovery, wonder. It was also a problem. You had to choose how to spend it, you might not get that kind of chance for quite some time. If you got it wrong, well, it could be a crushing disappointment.
I should have bought the Japanese import 12″ of a The Farmyard Connection by a The Fun Boy Three. But I didn’t because £4.49 for 12″ was just too much. I could get an album for that. But now, 30 or so years on, I don’t have it. But I do have a Pointer Sisters album, let’s not dwell on that choice.
But enough of my personal tragedies. What if I told you that a tenner can still deliver a journey of discovery, joy and wonder?
Tush, I hear you say? Well, it’s just a short step from tush to hey-nonny-nonny…
No, a single £10 note is all you’ll need, here’s how…
Visit second hand bookshops. If you live in Edinburgh like me, I can recommend a walk through Stockbridge, but anywhere will do.
You can easily get five books for a tenner, maybe more. Five books of sufficient variety can encompass a wide range of human experience and imagination.
By way of example, here’s a selection of my recent acquisitions…
Empire of the Sun – JG Ballard – £1
One single pound for one of the most amazing books you’ll ever read. I’m going to repeat that, one pound. You can buy almost nothing for a pound but you can get this beautifully crafted brilliance. One pound. Less than the bus far into town. One pound.
The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes – £2.99
Pushed the boat out to almost three quid for this one. Well, it is Julian Barnes and it did win the Booker Prize. I read this in 4 hours on holiday. Loved it. Three quid.
Staring at the Sun – Julian Barnes – £2
An earlier tale from the brilliant Mr Barnes, that follows a woman’s life during the war and 80-odd years thereafter. Reflections on death, religion and what it was life to be a woman in the 1940’s. Two quid.
The Earth – Emile Zola – £1
Monsieur Zola may not be to the taste of the modern reader but I have always been a fan. One pounds gets you what he himself said was his favourite book. A Lear-like tale of a rural French family. If it’s description of 19th century rural French life you’re after then look no further. One pound for a master of French literature. One pound.
The Armadillo – William Boyd – £2.49
A random buy as I’ve never read any William Boyd before. A very enjoyable read, immensely well written too. Two pounds forty nine.
There you have it, £9.48 spent on hundreds of pages of the sweat and creativity of some of the best writers the world has seen. That is almost no money and the return is massive. That’s an almost infinite rate of return. And you’re helping worthy causes. Infinity plus one.
So, here is my challenge. Take a tenner and head somewhere with a plethora of second hand book shops and see what collection of wonders you can amass. What you will amass will amaze, of that I have no doubt.
If you so please, post your plunder as a comment herein!