Every time I finish one of the Diana Gabaldon Outlander books, I take a moment to rejoice, and to read the Acknowledgements because they are full of fun thank yous such as this one, to her husband, for “his marginal notes (e.g., “nipples again?”).” Then I order myself the next installment in the series for $4.99. I don’t know how many books there are still to come: eight? eight hundred? Unless there is a marked downturn in quality, I will read them all, just as I did with Game of Thrones, His Dark Materials, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. These series appeal to something primal inside me: like video games, they offer a blend of simplicity and transcendence. Plus, at the end, resolution.
I feel guilty about shelling out $5 per fix, though, because 1) the e-books come from Amazon, and remember when I was going to boycott Amazon? hahahaha I am so good at having principles, and 2) Money! Spending money. And not on high-brow literature by serious and/or debut writers, either, but on an efficient pleasure delivery system. Here I am wearing clothes with holes in them and not going to the gym. How much sacrifice is too much? Which small indulgences are worth it? If it’s not that expensive and it makes me feel better, is that a good enough reason to press “buy”?
Especially because it’s fall. Season of cold winds and hot cider, of family and holidays and the guilty pleasures we lean on in order to get us through, like binge-watching network TV, or buying two coats at once at Nordstrom Rack, or mainlining a whole bag of candy corn. Maybe in the summertime, bolstered by long, sweet, sunshine-y days, I would like to start The Drums of Autumn as soon as I’m done with Voyager, but I wouldn’t need to. In the fall, though, I feel like Barney offered Duff beer: “Just hook it to my veins!“
This is the week that we would normally have a Billfold Book Club meetup, but we aren’t going to be looking at Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South until Thursday, October 16 (chapters 1-25 only, with chapters 26-52 for Thursday, Nov 20).
So I wanted to remind y’all that North and South was still happening, and that we are going to judge these fictional characters on how they manage their money.
I’ve started reading N&S, and I am just tickled that this 159-year-old book hits so many familiar tropes:
—Margaret, our heroine, is not pretty. —Well, she’s not as pretty as her cousin Edith, anyway. —She’s actually secretly pretty. —Way prettier than Edith, if you catch her in the right light. —The world just doesn’t appreciate how pretty Margaret is. —They don’t appreciate her intelligence, either. —Except this one guy. —He totally does. —He’s not pretty either. —Just kidding, he’s smolderingly hot if you catch him in the right light.
And that’s all in the first few pages.
I have been a fan of Chris Guillebeau’s work for years. I took his Empire Building Kit course when I was starting my first ventures into entrepreneurship, and continued my education with his book The $100 Startup.
Chris’s newest book, The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose To Your Life, released last week. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy, and as soon as I finished reading the book I asked Chris if he’d be willing to answer two questions about his book for Billfold readers.
Nicole: I really liked that you were realistic about how much the various quests you profiled cost to complete, and that you offered low-cost or free alternative suggestions to readers who might want to do something like “walk across the United States” but not want to quit their jobs or not have the available funds. If people are worried about the monetary cost—or opportunity cost—of going on a quest, what advice do you have to help them in their decision-making?
Chris: Make no mistake: a quest should involve some kind of cost. If you believe in something and want to pursue it, it will inevitably involve some degree of tradeoff with something else. And that’s okay! It’s not a quest without cost, and it shouldn’t necessarily be easy.