Top critical review
35 people found this helpful
I like the ideas, but . . .
on 9 December 2012
Where does this book miss for me?
Overall, the author takes a systems theory approach to working out what is worthwhile in life, and has come to interesting conclusions that are plausible, and seems to work for him. This is a superior approach to the eclectic "life hacks" offered by some competing books. (My worst example was a book suggesting using cans of beans instead of dumbells to save money on exercise equipment!) However, the book had weaknesses, and overall, I probably prefer the author's blog to this book.
He presents the results of his systemic thinking rather than the process he followed to come to his conclusions. He gives a lifestyle that works well for him, but probably would not suit many of his potential audience. Taken as examples of thinking outside the box, this is interesting (live in a caravan - or RV - anyone?) but less useful than guidance on how to explore these issues for yourself, with a view to reaching your own conclusions.
I got a strong sense that his philosophy of lean living was not universally scalable, as in a great part it depends on the remaining 99% of us to live wastefully so he can grase on our surplus. (The author is a physicist. This does have a reductionist approach to modelling the world as opposed to - e.g. - engineering, which embraces the world in all its complexity, and might lead to a more holistic philosophy if the same process was followed.
The author does not have any kids, so for those of us with families, his message is less convincing. (He hypothesises about this, but has not had to meet pester power in person.)
I personally did not find the authors writing style made for enjoyable reading. Another review has pointed at his use of calculus terminology to explain his concepts. Confusing for most readers, and probably unnecessary.
A minor quibble - there is a lot of discussion about health insurance, which is fortunately not an essential for UK readers. Some other points are more US centric (ROTH IRAs anyone?), but can be translated into UK pension funding.
I do not regret reading the book. Read the authors blog if you wish to know more before buying. Also read Mr Money Mustache blog for a less extreme way of life with similar ends. Mr Money Moustache has a child, so is perhaps closer to many readers experience.