Monday, July 8, 2013

Book Nook - Please Excuse My Daughter / Saved

Please excuse my daughter: a memoir by Julie Klam and Saved: How I Quit Worrying About Money and Became the Richest Guy in the World by Ben Hewitt:

You know how some things are just fine on their own, but when paired up with something, take on a completely new dimension?  Chocolate and peanut butter.  Seinfeld and Newman.  Red paint and blue paint.

So, it was interesting that I read these two books back to back, because, while at first, they seem like they are worlds apart, they actually have a lot in common and make an unexpected pairing.

Julie Klam's memoir, Please Excuse My Daughter, is about her privileged upbringing, which left her unprepared to cope with the real world.  Her parents' expectation of her was that she would marry well and be set for life.  Except that didn't happen.  She struggled to finish school (her mother would frequently pull her out of class to go shopping) and when she finished college, her parents bought an apartment and gave her a generous monthly "allowance."  She tried to find work, but when she did, it didn't always go well (she accidentally hung up on Harvey Keitel in one funny incident).  She tried to find a meaningful relationship, but that also didn't go as planned - she dated an ex-convict who managed to get thousands of dollars out of her.  When she finally landed her dream job - writing for a pop-up video show, and met her dream guy - her boss - her parents cut her off.  In the years that followed, she struggled with money while finding contentment with her life.

Saved is very different in that it dwells more in the present than the past, but I would still classify it as a memoir.  Ben Hewitt and his wife lived in a tent in Vermont while trying to save a big chunk of money to put down on land to buy.  When they found the right land, they lived in a little shack/cottage/structure on the property until the loan was paid off and they were ready to take on the expense of building a house.  But Saved is much more than Hewitt's personal story of frugality: he intertwines the tale of his friend Erik (and his extreme frugality) with musings on our current money culture and how we can stop chasing money and find contentment with less.

And there's the commonality: finding contentment with your life as it relates to money.  Both books gave me a lot to think about, related to money, but in very different ways.  Klam struggles to make ends meet when her husband has trouble finding steady work.  In the process, she learns that she must apply herself to her true calling to find happiness - and money.  Hewitt struggles to support his family of four on an unsteady paycheck, but he questions the big picture of the struggle: instead of trading in your life now to meet uncertain future needs, perhaps we need to rethink our ways and find a compromise that can meet those needs now and for the future (our future and those needs of future generations).

These two books are very different from one another, but the theme of money is so strong in both, that it's interesting to take them as a whole to examine that theme a little further.  Is it better to take money given from your parents to survive, or is it better to stoically endure a Vermont winter living in a tent?  Is it better to make money from doing what you love, or is it better to spend your time with those you love and build a "wealth" through your relationships?  These books are very interesting reads, but when read back to back, I really found more to ponder.

Have you ever read two books back to back and found a complimentary relationship between them?


No comments:

Post a Comment