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Shiny Objects: Our Obsession with Possession and the Truth About Why We Buy
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Shiny Objects: Our Obsession with Possession and the Truth About Why We Buy

3.3 of 5 stars 3.30  ·  rating details  ·  132 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Americans toss out 140 million cell phones every year. We discard 2 million plastic bottles every five minutes. And our total credit-card debt as of July 2011 is $793 billion.

Plus, credit cards can make you fat.

The American Dream was founded on the belief that anyone dedicated to thrift and hard work could create opportunities and achieve a better life. Now that dream has
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ebook, 368 pages
Published November 8th 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published November 1st 2010)
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susieredshoes
Some of the ideas on managing money in Robert's book were interesting, but not particularly new, such as using cash. I disliked this book in part because of its many references to god. I also take issue with his suggestions to punish oneself if one doesn't follow the rules; maybe this is part of his Christian thought process, which didn't resound well with this heathen at all.
Beth Gordon
This book had such a shiny title and ended up being on the dull side. The author is a university professor and summarized a lot of consumer research studies that had conclusions such as people who score higher on a materialism scale have more credit card debt.

Claire
This book is as boring as the cover art.
Joseph
I just finished reading this book, and I am disappointed. This book had a great deal of potential. James Roberts presents a wealth of information and cites numerous studies, all of which is good. However, he fails in his writing in two major ways. First, he confuses positive correlation and causation. Just because a study can show that two states or items are associated with one another does not necessarily mean that one causes the other. For example, one of Roberts's concepts is that materialis ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
I really enjoyed this book. It covers a problem that we sometimes moralize about but do little in the way of correcting. It is materialism. It is the way we distract ourselves by purchasing "shiny objects" to make us feel better. Meanwhile we wind up spending more money than we have and go into debt and make our lives worse. We take on more jobs to pay off the debt for the shiny objects while important things like relationships to family, friends and community suffer. Materialistic people who c ...more
Don B.
Has the American Dream been perverted by the lure of easy money? Have the old-fashioned values of hard work, thrift and moderation given way to sloth and envy and shop-till-you-dropism? Is there any way out of the tar pit of mindless, endless compulsory consumption in which America seems to be trapped?

Yes, yes and yes, says James Roberts in his provocative Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don't Have in Search of Happiness We Can't Buy.

Though Roberts is a professor of marketing, his book is n
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Vicki
Actually, this book totally worked for me. It CAN sound a little academic, but ultimately, the author explores some pretty compelling ideas. There are some really basic truths in here (do you have an emergency backup fund? No? Then you probably need to rethink every purchase you make until you've got a good one going). There's also some interesting exploration of where the concept of the "American Dream" came from. (I, for one, never knew who coined it, but it's interesting how most companies us ...more
Kat
Though I agree with other reviewers that this book was slightly more "self-help" than I expected, I still enjoyed it. There were lots of insights into the origins and consequences of materialism. The topic of marketing and techniques used by advertisers lacked novelty IMO. That said, it was still a book I took the time to finish so that says something. I take away a new found skepticism that I can watch TV and not be impacted by the desire to "consume". I think this book would be a good place to ...more
Kate Woods Walker
Marketing professor James A. Roberts takes us on comprehensive tour through human greed, with particular attention to the American consumer culture.

Shiny Objects could be a high school or college text, a book club choice, a Sunday School lesson or just a spiritually-tinged personal challenge for the overly materialistic. It's well-written and not too preachy.

Comedian Bill Hicks thought anyone involved in marketing should just kill themselves. I don't know that this book would have changed his mi
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TheSaint
Interesting, but kind of all over the place, research-wise. I suppose that might be necessary in re the topic. Though the chapter on the prosperity gospel might have been a stretch!

Solid reporting of studies from sociology, biology, and even my new fave, evolutionary psychology. Spent: Sex, Evolution and Consumer Behavior by Geoffrey Miller is the go-to for that topic.

Beyond the individual and social causes of materialism, the author also includes chapters for people who want to step off the ear
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Abigail
Though the idea of materialism as something we need to get away from is not a particularly new subject, the author presents research that is scary and frustrating. I was surprised at some of the numbers about product placement. The chapter on Prosperity Gospel was certainly an interesting reminder of how pervasive this has become. Caught a number of phrases that I've heard in my own head that I need to break out of. There are definitely more positive affirmations one can have than "I deserve to ...more
Don
A rarity: an accessible book on consumerism and marketing written by an academic for a popular audience. There's not much new here--the kids-and-marshmallows test of self-control, for example, was an inescapable part of the zeitgeist all last year--but Roberts does an admirable job of weaving far flung statistics, surveys, articles, anecdotes, and self-assessment quizzes into a coherent and eminently readable whole.
Rick
Meh, this was ok. There were some interesting bits and pieces, but I didn't find it to be an overly compelling read. Pretty much the standard message: money can't buy -- and things don't provide -- happiness. Clearly our culture has a serious habit when it comes to buying stuff, and views having lots of money and possessions as proof of success and the key to happiness. Nothing new there...
Catania Larson
I felt like this book was okay. It was dry and sometimes boring. A lot of it seemed kind of obvious (money can't buy you happiness). There were a few parts I liked, but I just kept falling asleep while reading this. I think that there are more interesting non-fiction books that can deal with this subject.
Alvin
Part review of current trends and part self-assessment/self-help. I prefer and started this book for a look at the state of materialism today and what it is doing to us individually and collectively. I just skipped the "answer the following questions about your spending habits" chapters.
Martha
a great exploration of materialism in our culture - how it’s increasing, all of the encouragement from TV to some preachers, how materialism is documented to lead to lower satisfaction in life, and what you can do to combat it’s influence in your own life. Very readable.
Kristen
Based on the abstract on the inside cover and the title, I was expecting more of a socioeconomic discourse. This was more self help book about finances, which I don't need or want. Would be helpful for someone who wanted a more clinical version of Dave Ramsey, I guess.
Tom
Good, well researched and enlightening. A bit of a finger wagger, yes but I can't say I didn't agree. I didn't find the self-help chapters to be burdensome, they were the shortest and were well done.
Marianna
The statistics and references to various studies really bogged this book down. I think the topic is a worthwhile one for our time, but this book didn't do the best job of covering it.
Carol
I didn't finish this book as I found it a bit repetitive, and I got tired of the Seventeen magazine-like quizzes. I guess I was hoping for something a bit more scholarly.
Sarah
It took me awhile to get through this book. I set it down for well over a rear before picking back up a couple weeks ago.

It's interesting, but not real mind blowing.
Duane


Interesting but skimmed it. A lot of meaningless surveys. Verifies a lot of what I already believed.
Melissa
Nothing earth shattering. A lot of information I already knew and more of a self-help book than I thought it would be.
Edward Sullivan
An interesting study of American obsessions with consumption and possession.
Tracey
Feb 26, 2014 Tracey marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended-tcpl
Author appearance on Diane Rhem show 23 Nov 2011
Heather
Boring. Not much useful info.
Deborah
Deborah marked it as to-read
Nov 26, 2014
Evan Patronik
Evan Patronik marked it as to-read
Nov 24, 2014
Barb
Barb added it
Nov 20, 2014
Anisha
Anisha marked it as to-read
Nov 16, 2014
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New York in the Revolution as Colony and State. Second Edition 1898. [Bound With] Volume II, 1901 Supplement. Two Volumes in One Shiny Objects: Our Obsession with Possessions and the Truth About Why We Buy Jesus Was an Indian?:A Layman's Look at Native American Spirituality A Century in the Comptroller's Office, State of New York, 1797 to 1897 - The Original Classic Edition Just what is EIR?

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“And yet Carter was spot-on when he told the American people, In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose. . . . This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning.40” 0 likes
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