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#80 - Rare Books

#80 - Rare Books

Rare Books
Price: Disdain For Big Bookstores

James Bryce, nineteenth century British politician, diplomat and historian, said “The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.” Bryce was referring to knowledge, ideas and imagination. These are all well and good if you are a card-carrying member of the public library but to the rich, books represent culture, sophistication and a civilized acquisition. Visit homes of the wealthy and you will discover beautiful libraries that prominently display first edition classics bound in leather, steeped in tradition and occasionally encased in glass. To the uninformed it may appear that the rich are voracious readers, but the books are too valuable to read. So they must be great investments, but they mean too much to sell. What then is the rationale for books you can’t open and objects you won’t part with?

Rare books reflect an owner’s interests and measure how stimulating one’s host is without having to engage in conversations that may betray their depth of literary understanding. Guests are expected to unquestionably accept that rare book collections accurately represent an owner’s knowledge and taste. Shelves displaying Twain, Verne, London and Kipling show a sense of adventure that may manifest itself through sailing or drinking tap water while abroad. Libraries housing biographies of NASCAR drivers and paperbacks made into Hollywood films likewise speak volumes about your host. Think of this like perusing your friend’s iPod and finding nothing but Yanni, Vanilla Ice and John Tesh or looking through your boyfriend’s DVD collection and discovering Mariah Carey concerts and Patrick Dempsey films…it says a lot about them; they will never be in charge of entertainment and likely require therapy.

To capitalize on rich people’s love of rare books requires little more than the ability to act impressed with their collection. The trick is to let them do all the talking which will leave them feeling that you are an exceptional conversationalist. Starting their monologue is as simple as saying, “This is an extraordinary collection, which book is your favorite?” By nodding attentively and occasionally interjecting a well-timed “how fascinating”, your host will impart a surface level knowledge of their collected literary works of genius. As a warning, the worst thing you can do in this situation is to flex your own literary muscle as a means to impress. Asking their thoughts on “Hemmingway’s unique ability to convey themes through a succinct writing style that mirrors life” is more likely to result in the sound of crickets than an invitation to join them for an afternoon on the yacht. Likewise, mentioning that your father has collected every copy of Soldier of Fortune magazine published since 1987 is also unlikely to impress and may be perceived as a veiled threat culminating in an introduction to Rambo, their personal protection German Shepherd. Should you make it past the aforementioned hurdles, rare books are outstanding cocktail banter and an opportunity to tantalize and arouse those with literary leanings; little is as stimulating to book lovers as discussing the rising action, climax and denouement of a classic novel. Good luck and Godspeed!

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#54 - Quoting Literature

#54 - Quoting Literature

Dictionary of Quotations
Price: $4.99

When speaking with the wealthy it will become immediately obvious that rich people love to quote literature. In fact, it is so common that what you call quoting, they call normal conversation. You will know you are in the presence of the upper crust when you hear someone drop the “I believe it was [insert author name] that once said…” followed by a well rehearsed line. The crowd draws closer and then nods their collective head appreciatively. This can be an annoying interruption that causes you to roll your eyes as they misquote original works and use famous prose out of context or it can become the foundation of a wonderful friendship.

When rich people speak, they must constantly overcome a perpetual guilt born of boarding schools and Ivy League educations. Quoting literature is a simple way to justify their upbringing and showcase their pedigree. Naturally, the words coming out of their mouth have meaning but the real message is that they have read the classics, they understand them, they can graciously draw on them as required and this makes them sophisticated and cultured. For the middle class this personifies itself as random trivia and their subsequent self-deprecation as ‘fountains of useless knowledge’. The rich are certainly not self-deprecating and they believe books are as necessary as water, air and scotch.

To befriend the wealthy, ensure that you have a few literary gems tucked away that you can unleash in any situation. A quote from a Greek scholar, a medieval poet-playwright and a modern author will suffice. Look to Socrates or Aristotle, Shakespeare or Dante and Shaw or Wilde as examples. Quoting one of these renowned ink-slingers will induce gleeful claps and ridiculous grins on the faces of your hosts. Men and women will be drawn to you like moths to a beacon and before you know it you will have new friends hanging on your every word. The true genius of using quotes is it is incredibly hard to argue with a dead person and you are simply using their words. Beware the perils of simply speaking to be heard though, I believe it was Plato who said “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”

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#12 - Private Libraries

#12 - Private Libraries

Kinsey Marable & Co.
Price: $7,300,000

Rich people love private libraries but this does not mean rich people love to read. A home with a private library says that you are cultured, you are educated and you have deep knowledge on a myriad of topics. It also says that you do not like to mingle with people in public libraries because they cannot afford to buy books. Presumably, Andrew Carnegie would be torn.

Building a private library is not to be taken lightly. Rich people commission library consultants to design and stock bookshelves with titles that reflect the owner’s interests and personality. Dealers like Kinsey Marable & Co will acquire scores of literary works, catalogue and furnish the space announcing to guests that you are a sophisticated individual with impeccable taste regardless of whether you ever crack the spine on a single acquisition in your home.

Finally, one simply must apply for membership with the Private Libraries Association based in the hamlet of Middlesex with satellite offices located in the USA, Canada and Australia. Members receive The Private Library quarterly, mailings relating to their areas of collecting interest and members may attend the Annual General Meeting held in London. Perhaps you will rub elbows with Oprah or other celebrities with private libraries of their own!

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