Books Are Taxing!
In the U.S., taxes have come and are (nearly) gone—except for those of you who have filed extensions—so I decided to check out how many books there are in English on taxes. I included both used and new in every edition: paperback, hardcover, Kindle, HTML, PDF, audio, and more. It turns out a lot of people want to sell you stuff on the subject: There are 63,465 books, according to Amazon.
Then I became curious about how many there are other than how-to books. I entered that same word in the keyword box, but instead of just hitting Enter I chose specific subjects. The results were interesting and occasionally amusing:
Arts & Photography = 81. Tucked among the how-to tax guides for artistic types I found Country Music Revealed: True Stories of Boozin’, Cheatin’, Stealin’, Tax Dodgin’, and D-I-V-O-R-C-E. I hope the author has a good accountant.
Biographies and Memoirs = 210. In here, I found tax protestors who felt compelled to share their ideas, tax dodgers who like to take it offshore, tax firm founders, tax havens, tax collectors, tax revolt leaders (old and new), moonshiners, and more. But I also found a book that intrigues me: You Simply Hit Them with an Axe: The Extraordinary True Story of the Tax Turmoils of P. G. Wodehouse. What was with Wodehouse and taxes? Sadly, due to the prices being asked by independent sellers I’ll never know.
Children’s Books = 60. I was floored to see this many books about taxes in this genre, and especially the number for young children who are not yet in civics classes. There are two books for those aged “Baby to 2”; four books for those aged 3-5; and fourteen books for those aged 6-8. Do young children really need to know this? The board book, only for the very youngest, is The Tax Man and it’s a jigsaw puzzle book.
Cookbooks, Food & Wine = 41. Most of these were, again, practical, but three interesting histories showed up: Beer in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance; Brewing Battles: A History of American Beer; and From Demon to Darling: A Legal History of Wine in America. I’m pretty sure I see Al Capone in this category.
Crafts, Hobbies, and Home = 442. Now we’re getting serious, though I was surprised to see that most (253) of them were in HTML. A mere 164 are in print and ten are offered in a Kindle edition. Eliminating the usual how to guides about buying a home or starting a business I discovered only one The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine.
Gay & Lesbian = 12. I was actually surprised to see any number here, but the dozen shown included women and taxes, feminist solidarity, a manual for ending poverty and building peace, legal marriage guides, good places to live, financial planning for gays and lesbians in a straight world, estate planning and—His Master’s Lover, an apparently not very good novel.
Health, Fitness, and Dieting = 424. I think this category has had its innards screwed up. What else would explain the inclusion of How to Represent Yourself Against the IRS in the United States Tax Court in it unless the logarithms think sweating before judges and agents equals dieting? What I did find amusing was Death, Taxes and Push Ups, which added on a bit to the original Ben Franklin quote and got a title.
History = 3,479. Whoa! Biggest category yet. (But then I ignored the Business & Investing category.) I cannot possibly go through all of them, but after 250 returns I (finally) found The Dogs Plea: Or Reasons Most Humbly Submitted by the Barking Fraternity of Great Britain, to the Men Their Masters. Shewing Why Dogs Ought to be Exempted from Taxes. Yes, it’s a real book, reprint from a company that believes early printed books (pre-1923) ought to be kept in print. Sorry, but there’s no information so I cannot tell you what it is about.
Humor & Entertainment = 166. This would seem ripe for books to do with taxes because humor is definitely needed at this time of the year. While there are plenty of tax guide for entertainers, gamblers, and others, it is books like Bland Ambition: From Adams to Quayle—the Cranks, Criminals, Tax Cheats, and Golfers Who Made It to Vice President or Death, Taxes, and Leaky Waters: A John Gierach Fly-Fishing Treasury that make the category worth browsing.
Literature and Fiction = 489. A very respectable number of books that relate in some way to taxes, I was relieved to find a veritable feast that didn’t include one how-to guide. It was very hard to choose just two here, but I decided to focus on the ones with high stars, namely four or five. That lowered the number to 101. Focusing on those with at least twenty reviews, I found Tax Collectors … and Other Sinners, which sounds grisly, and The Pale King.
Religion & Spirituality = 284. Leaving aside the usual guides (for ministers) and tax developments, there is this book with perhaps the longest title I’ve yet seen: Ways and Means to Pay Taxes and Be Happy. A Sermon Preached at St. Dunstan’s Church, Stepney, on Sunday, September the 15th, 1784. And at the New Chapel in Kentish Town, in the Parish of St. Pancras, the Sunday Following.
Romance = 46. Ah yes, romance. Because sweet words always include “taxes.” Well, at least what I found here included, thankfully, very few guides. But they did refer to it, in some cases like this one, rather blatantly: Screwing the Tax Man, complete with a disrobing woman on the cover. Three books from one author—Death, Taxes and [Extra-Hold Hairspray / a Skinny No-Whip Latte / a French Manicure] also show up here.
Science Fiction and Fantasy = 14. There are very few—apparently taxes don’t travel into time and space well—but they look interesting. Clide and Druce: A Repulsive Tale of Trolls and Tax Money is at least different, but what puzzles me is how Live Free or Die: Essays on Liberty by New Hampshire Libertarians made it into this category. What am I missing here?
Sports & Outdoors = 66. Interestingly, there are a few intriguing books like Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle Over Building Sports Stadiums and several others that focus on the theme.
Travel = 206. Vacationing, moving, working, and retiring abroad were the subject of quite a few books, but I also found the well-reviewed Great Hedge of India: The Search for the Living Barrier that Divided a People.
So there you have it. If you still have taxes on the brain and need to ease out of that mindset, perhaps one of these non-guide books is just right. There are a couple that even have made it onto my To Buy list even though my tax paperwork was over a couple of months ago. Regardless of where you are in the process, remember: there’s a tax book for you.
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