Structure Sunday: The Structure of Your Media Consumption


Omigosh I must be so easily amused. I have flown planes, climbed mountains, and swam with sea lions, but today, I got the biggest rush from organizing cookbooks in their new shelves. I just adore their beautiful pages full of recipes like magic spells waiting to be cast. A beautiful recipe transforms you as you make it, and your family as they see what has been prepared for them. 

I am reading a riveting book right now. It is called Seveneves. I found myself reading it at a stop light. Not good. I chose it based on the genre, sci fi, but also because of the reviews on Amazon, and finally because of what I was able to learn about the author, for instance that he double majored in Physics and Geography. I learned all this on the internet.

Seveneves: A Novel
By Neal Stephenson


 I did all that research because I wasn't going to devote several hours of my life to something less than totally worthwhile. You see, I get absorbed in my books, fiction and non-fiction alike. They transport me. I don't hear things around me when I am reading. If something is going to affect me like this, it better be quality and it better have redeeming value. I want to finish the book a better person. 

I feel the same way about film, but there are far fewer good films than there are good books. Still, the depths of Netflix and Apple TV are unplumbed, and I look forward to it whenever I have time to dive deep. I don't know if my approach is correct; I save film like candy or ice cream, and cannot watch it until I eat all my vegetables, i.e. work, housekeeping, bills, and exercise. 

Music, however, is like water to me. I have to have it all the time. Patients know it plays all day long in all our clinic rooms, and we try to make it wonderful. We try to make people enjoy their time with us. I want to turn more people on to fine music.

I believe music puts you in touch with yourself. If a song makes you melancholy and wistful, it is touching something within. You may gain from this awareness, and perhaps be able to give the issue more attention. Likewise, if you hear something that makes you feel like dancing, it's because that dance is already in you; the song merely helps release it. 

When I was growing up, all this was so expensive. Books were bought in bookstores, and records required expensive equipment to play well. Regarding films, well, you had to make arrangements to go to a theater, providing you were old enough. But nowadays, the widespread availability of all this media is astonishing. I believe it is world changing. 

I have a great personal interest in the lives of those with low income and high aspirations. I respect these people. I want to understand how they can realize their dreams. I think one big piece of this puzzle is widespread high quality media: books, film, and music. These are not just      niceties in life. They nurture the soul and enlighten the mind. 

Media like music, film and books are not about living vicariously or being passive. They are about learning and getting inspired to go out and live life to the fullest. That is why I think everyone should have access to all the good stuff all of the time. 

So I wondered how much it would cost to have unlimited access to all this media all the time. Here is a rough calculation: 


  • Amazon Prime costs $99 per year. You get access to 41,000 movies and TV episodes, and 350,000 Kindle books. Of course the Kindle app is free for any platform. Just be aware these are like Netflix titles, not necessarily the hot new releases, but still very good. 
  • Netflix has a somewhat different set of movies, all for $7.99 per month,  all released several months after they hit theaters. 
  • Apple Music, is $9.99 per person  or $14.99 per family per month. For this you may stream the entire Apple music catalog. Or, you could get Pandora with ads, for free, or without ads, for $4.99 per month. 
  • Let's say you actually want to buy a few physical books because, like me, you think cookbooks should be physical, or because you want to have a paper book to pass around, then you must budget a few dollars for that. Let's say you, like me, buy used books on Amazon, and you decide your budget is one book per month, at $5 per book used, plus $3.99 per book shipping.

If you have a smartphone and internet already, then we can ignore those costs. If we say, for purposes of argument that you "want it all" , the tally is as follows: 

Amazon Prime = $99/yr

Netflix annually = $95.88/yr

Apple Music for one = $119.88/yr

Paper books one year, as detailed above = $107.88

Total = $422.64 per year or $35.22 per month. Aren't numbers interesting ? 

Let's say you are really on a tight budget. You pick only Amazon Prime for Kindle books and streaming video, together with free Pandora for music. Your cost is only $99/year or $8.32 per month. Honestly, that is two lattes. What an amazing time we live in. 


The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
By Deb Perelman