Generally I am pretty good about putting down a book if I feel like it is going to be a waste of time, but for some unknown reason I read this whole b...moreGenerally I am pretty good about putting down a book if I feel like it is going to be a waste of time, but for some unknown reason I read this whole book in hopes that it would get better. If you are looking for inspiration to cut your consumption, do not look here. Unlike what the title suggests, the author and her husband do not stop shopping entirely for the year. There are (in my opinion) too many weak exceptions made to the rules of not shopping. Additionally, they stock up on supplies (i.e., buy a whole lot of stuff) right before they start the project. The only people who will probably like this book are other guilt-ridden privileged people that are like the author and her husband. Not recommended unless you feel like reading whiny commentary about how "times have gotten tough" when your wine stockpile runs out.(less)
I didn't think this book was that great overall, but its strong point is in providing convincing financial reasons for not owning a car. The title is...moreI didn't think this book was that great overall, but its strong point is in providing convincing financial reasons for not owning a car. The title is pretty misleading; it is has more useful info about WHY you might not want to own a car than HOW to live without one. If you are investigating ways of saving money, have been concerned with gas prices, or are interested in the financial implications of car ownership, this book is worth reading for that aspect.
In terms of the "hows", the info is fairly basic and much of it seems pretty intuitive - I think many people will think of renting a car occasionally or looking at public transit options in their area. Some of the more difficult aspects of not owning a car are not addressed thoroughly in the book. For instance, I think parents must face some of the more difficult challenges of not owning a car, so it would be useful to have an in-depth section on issues with babies, teenage children, etc. Safety issues at night without a car are also not addressed adequately (the author recommends taking a cab after a night on the town, which isn't possible in many places and a financial challenge for others).
Finally, I found it interesting that there was so much focus on the "stigma" of not owning a car (there's a whole section, for instance, on concerns about dating when you don't have a car), but not much about the opposite situation of dealing with negative reactions of from car-owning friends. As with any lifestyle choice, there are people who will react with defensiveness or guilt. Some discussion about how express enthusiasm for your choice without being judgmental (but still be prepared to deal with the defensive reaction anyway) would be a good addition to this book. (less)
Despite the silly title and the very outdated information about investing in government bonds (which may have been corrected in later editions - I rea...moreDespite the silly title and the very outdated information about investing in government bonds (which may have been corrected in later editions - I read this book several years ago), this would be my top recommendation to anyone looking for a good personal finance book.
You don't have to use everything in the book or agree with all of the authors' points to get something out of this book. One of the more useful exercises is the calculation of your net worth, which includes inventorying everything you own (this has the added benefit of uncovering items that you want to sell or donate). Best, though, is the process outlined in the book of tabulating and analyzing all of your expenses. You keep track of every cent you spend by keeping a piece of paper in your wallet, tally it up at the end of the month, and then take a look at what you spent for surprises, areas to change, etc.
This is not a "get rich quick" book, which would be appealing to anyone who is turned off by those sorts of titles and/or has another reason for wanting to get more organized with their finances other than wanting money for expensive consumer goods. The book has its fair share of inspirational talk, and many people will likely find at least some of the book's projects to be painful in what they reveal, but the overall usefulness of the book outweighs the aspects that may be difficult or unappealing to some. (less)
Despite the subtitle that sounds like this is a self-help book, it is actually a collection of profiles of Japanese artists, activists, and others who...moreDespite the subtitle that sounds like this is a self-help book, it is actually a collection of profiles of Japanese artists, activists, and others who have chosen alternative lifestyles in Japan. I read this a few month ago and am waiting to write a full review until I go back to the book and take some notes from the stories. However, a brief note that some of the people profiled in this book are anti-nuclear activists and speak in detail about the dangers of nuclear power in Japan. It may be too difficult to read these sections right now; on the other hand, some successes are noted in the book - and it is a valuable source for alternative viewpoints and history of nuclear issues in Japan.(less)