Scott writes in:
How can you read and review a personal finance book every week? I’ve read three or four of them and they seem all the same to me. Don’t you get tired of the reviews?
I get some version of this question quite often – and it’s a good one. I’ve been reviewing one or two personal finance or personal development books a week for about two and a half years. In fact, here’s a list of all of the book reviews I’ve done – 192 reviews and counting, as of this writing.
That’s a lot of books, no matter how you slice it. Why on earth would I read so many – and so regularly? I can think of nine reasons…
Reading personal finance books helps me keep my eyes on the prize. Reading a book every week makes me think once again about the need for keeping my money in order and the tactics I use to do it. It’s similar to the reason that a lot of people read The Simple Dollar – regular reminders keep the message fresh and keep our eyes on the prize.
Reading more personal finance books helps me make better book recommendations to others. Every month or two, I’ll read an exceptional book – one that really helps break down personal finance issues in a spectacular way for a specific audience. For example, Please Send Money by Dara Duguay does a great job of addressing the needs of college students, while You’re So Money by Farnoosh Torabi really hits the financial needs of young single female professionals. I also stumble upon great books on specific topics, like Financial Infidelity by Bonnie Eaker Weil, which brilliantly addresses the problems of money and marriage, particularly when one spouse is “hiding” money issues.
Reading personal finance books written for different audiences helps me to see the different needs that different people have. Reading books intended for different audiences is very insightful. For example, I quite enjoyed You’re So Money even though I’m not in the demographic for the book at all – it challenged my thinking in a lot of ways and helped me to see how twentysomething professional women might have different perspectives on money issues than I do. Understanding this enables me to write better articles for The Simple Dollar.
Each personal finance book I read exposes me to a new idea or angle or two. I learn something new from almost every personal finance book I read. Those new ideas get filed away for future reference and combination with other ideas I’ve already learned, and quite often, it’s the meeting of two ideas that becomes the impetus for a post for The Simple Dollar.
I still love hearing stories of financial turnarounds and financial success. I know it can be done from my own life, but I still love hearing stories of people overcoming their adversity. It’s a great thing – people come across challenges, they work hard and commit to real changes in their life, and they do it! They make it!
Once in a while, I’ll discover a really great book that twists how I think about things. Not all books can match Your Money or Your Life. However, once every few months, I will read a book that shocks my system a little bit and makes me really think about issues in my own life. It’ll float around in my mind for weeks, sowing ideas wherever it goes. A recent one I’ve reviewed in that vein is Who’s Got Your Back by Keith Ferrazzi.
Seeing the same idea written in many different ways gives me food for thought on how to present personal finance ideas. Even the repetitive aspects inspire me. After seeing the same idea described in thirty different ways, I grow as a writer. I begin to see how the same idea can be tackled in lots of different ways, and I work through how I want to present them and think about them.
Seeing where personal finance tactics contradict each other – and there are a lot of places – gives me a lot of food for thought. Some books advocate an index fund-based strategy for investing. Other books offer completely different advice. Those conflicts excite me. They make me think hard about what’s really going on, and sometimes, they make me come to completely unexpected conclusions.
Reading lots of books of any type exposes me to different writing styles, improving my own writing. Beyond what I review on The Simple Dollar, I also read two or three additional books a week (those who follow me on Twitter know all about them, because I mention them there). Reading so much not only exposes me to a lot of ideas, it also provides tons of insight on how to write in general. I find myself trying subtly different approaches on The Simple Dollar all the time.
To put it simply, if you blog on a particular subject, there are few things you can do that are more useful than becoming well read on the subject and then sharing what you learn and the ideas all that reading causes to grow in your head.