Thursday, April 12, 2012

Weekend Reading: Lost and Found

I was rather excited to be able to review this book because it seems like it actually might be a personal finance book, or, at least, a book about one woman's personal finances.  And I guess it is, but I really just don't know what to make of this one, for a few reasons.

Geneen Roth is a successful writer and leader of retreats where women go to deal with their issues about food and binge eating.  Roth is the author of a book called Women Food and God, which I remember people clamoring for at the library a few years ago, so I was mildly curious.  What I don't quite get about this book, is the way that the author keeps talking about how flawed her relationship with food and money is, but then sells herself as an expert and as someone who can help other people.  I don't believe in hiding your flaws, certainly people should learn from them, but the way she laid it all out in this book was just strange and I just kept thinking why should I listen to you? You're a total mess.

In that sense, I would say that this book falls more under the umbrella of self help than personal finance.  She's not laying out rules like Suze Orman et al., she's examining how people feel about money through the lens of her own experience.  I'd say that this could be a valuable book for some people, but I guess I'm just too cynical?  Maybe I've done all the analyzing I need to without realizing it because I didn't find a lot in this book that I really responded to.  I also never really respond well to introspection and talk of feelings, so there's that too.

Ms. Roth and her husband have made a lot of money over the years, and they invested most of it with Bernie Madoff.  We all know how that story ends, and that's where this book comes in.  The author is trying to analyze her relationship to money and figure out how to stop herself from overspending the way she stopped overeating, and she's also trying to understand why money is something you're not supposed to talk about.

That's interesting to me, and it is important to analyze your relationship with money, because it's entirely too easy to write off as being too complicated or too boring or too scary, but I feel like the way this author approaches things is just not something I respond to.  She makes a lot of good points, "Money is expensive--we pay for it with moments that will never come again and then we toss those moments away as if they have nothing to do with us." (182).

Overall, this book has value, but it's just not the book for me.  I lose a lot of patience when I feel like I'm being lectured and this book felt like there was a lot of filler in it too.  I'd say, if you're someone who is truly afraid of dealing with money (you're probably not actually reading this blog), this is a good starting out book.  It lays some good foundations and ends on a very optimistic note.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book and compensation from Blogher Book Club, but the opinions are all mine.

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