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Green With Envy: A Whole New Way to Look at…

Green With Envy: A Whole New Way to Look at Financial (Un)Happiness

by Shira Boss

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I don’t know what I expected when I picked up Green with Envy, but I certainly didn’t get it.

This book isn’t designed to reconcile Aesop’s ants with their grasshopper neighbors.

The author begins by mentioning the concept of reference groups, the people we compare ourselves to. They’re usually people fairly close to ourselves in socioeconomic status. I would have liked her to develop this more, but it was mentioned practically in passing. She then moves on to the kinds of people who might inspire envy: her neighbors, members of congress, the baby boomer generation, and the very, very wealthy. In all these chapters she exhorts us, basically, not to be critical until we’ve walked a mile in their Manolo Blahniks. No matter how good things look for them, they’re still just folks with money troubles, same as us. (She reserves a particularly large dose of sympathy for the very wealthy, which led me to wonder: if those with money really felt having it was such a burden, and that they were being deprived of something meaningful by not needing to work, why didn’t they give all their money away and truly join the working classes???)

Giving the author the benefit of the doubt I think her perspective is that we can’t control what’s going on in other people’s lives, but we can control our reaction to it. Unfortunately she comes off as preachy and “blame-the-victimy” especially in her concluding chapter, where she actually tells us that “The universe will provide. You’ll get what you really need as you need it.” If I hadn’t been within a few pages from the end at this point, I surely would have pitched the book across the room as I tried to digest that bit of new age rationalization.

If you want a much better examination of why people succeed and how we should feel about it, read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. The best thing to say about Green With Envy is it’s a quick read, which makes it just a little less disappointing. ( )
  OliviainNJ | Aug 16, 2009 |
I thought for a nonfiction book it was very readable and not boring.
  janetcg | Feb 10, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446578355, Hardcover)

Everyone wants to keep up with the Joneses, regardless of income, occupation, or net worth. Our contentment is based on how we measure up to those around us, how close we come to the image we feel compelled to live up to, even when it means putting up a front. But how can anyone make realistic comparisons to others when everyones personal finances are shrouded in secrecy and shame? Were living in the dark, and its turning the American dream into an anxiety attack. A tantalizing mix of hard facts and delicious gossip, GREEN WITH ENVY peers into the lives and checkbooks of our neighborsfrom a national politician to a New York City couple to a suburban familyand gives readers what they need to improve their financial well being without touching their bank accounts.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:06 -0400)

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