Off the Shelf: May Edition

Each month we’ll do a book roundup of some of my recent reads, including two business book and one other book. Check out what I read this month!

Work Your Wealth: 9 Steps to Making Smarter Money Choices with Your Money

Mary Beth Storjorhann, CFP

Let’s just cut to the chase: The best part of this book in my opinion is that, unlike just about every other bit of money advice you hear, Mary Beth does not say you have to cut out daily lattes to save $X per year. (Can I get an “Amen” on that?) Instead, her advice on this point, and throughout, is to personalize the money process for you. In other words, instead of your money controlling you, you’re learning to control your money.

Mary Beth’s tone is real and matter-of-fact but her advice is, and the nine steps are, so practical and seemingly easy to implement that this money book is not overwhelming. So often talking about money (or even thinking about it) causes anxiety. That’s not the case with this book. You don’t walk away from reading this book with a sense of dread about money mistakes you’ve made — or worrying that you’ll be working until you’re 90 in order to have enough. Instead you feel like you can actually do this (and it won’t be awful to make any necessary changes to get where you want to be).

Work Your Wealth covers all of the usual suspects when it comes to money and personal finance books: goals, budgeting, debt, investing, retirement planning, credit. It does so, though, in a way that is not condescending and but again, personalizes the process for you. Mary Beth asks what money represents to you so that you can set goals that are appropriate to you. My retirement dreams likely aren’t the same as yours, so our daily, weekly, and annual money decisions won’t be the same. Mary Beth’s encouragement is to make a money plan that will make you happy.

The book includes solid examples with real-life situations and numbers, all presented in an easy-to-understand manner. Complicated terms and concepts are presented in a way that non-finance people like me can understand and, just as important, in a way that is not boring. Mary Beth stresses the importance of tracking your financial progress and why you need to invest — now — both financially and in yourself.

Side note for those of us who are creatives, solopreneurs, and small business owners: Mary Beth includes advice specific to those of us with variable incomes, particularly when it comes to “lifestyle inflation.” I love this, too, because I think sometimes we’re forgotten in money and finance books.

Mary Beth Storjorhann takes the stress out of thinking about your financial future. After reading Work Your Wealth, you’ll feel positive about where you’re headed (and how you’ll get there). Turns out talking about money doesn’t have to be so intimidating after all.

The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion

Elle Luna

This was another one of those books where I had heard so much hype and so many positive reviews that I expected to be disappointed. I definitely was not. This book is everything “they” say it is. I can so easily see why this book, which started as an essay, resonated with so many people that it grew organically into something much, much bigger. The author writes that “these pages are a pep talk,” and they truly are. It’s up to each of us to figure out our own answers, but the content of this book is certainly a road map to follow as we think about our own Should and Must on our own journey.

She lays out in Part I the definitions of each, and the differences between them. She then offers what I consider the crux of the book, in two separate sentences: “Choosing Must is the greatest thing we can do with our lives,” followed later by “But if Must is so great, why don’t we choose it every day?” Yes! We are conditioned, really, by Should. Should is a part of everyday life. And then there’s this: Must is scary! To actually do that thing that is our calling? Yikes. Then you add to that that it takes hard work and time to deal with Should, and it’s easy to see why most people never make it happen. So there we are: at the crossroads of Should and Must. We let life dictate why we aren’t pursuing our Must: We can’t make a living pursuing it. It’s not the right time.

One of the big takeaways for me came early in the book. The author was talking about how she loved painting when she was younger but hadn’t painted in so long. When, as an adult, she painted, the joy returned. That really struck me: Our creativity stays within us even when we aren’t practicing it. For her, that meant painting. For some it’s writing. For others, drawing. For others, singing. Whatever it is, we need it let it out and reclaim the joy that results in practicing it! Find your Must  — whatever it is — and claim it, friends! As Elle says, honor who you are.
 

The Royal We

Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Why are Americans so fascinated by British royalty? I have no idea, but I definitely am. This is the first adult novel by Heather and Jessica, whom you may know as the Fug Girls (and if you don’t, you should; they are hilariously fantastic!), and it doesn’t disappoint. The book opens the day before Bex (Rebecca Porter) marries Prince Nicholas of Wales, future King of England, and the parallels are clearly drawn to Will and Kate from the get-go. The book is told from Rebecca’s point of view, showing how it must feel to live life under the microscope once she and Nick are “found out.” The plot is fairly predictable for those who know anything about the real Will and Kate, and the supporting characters somewhat recognizable: the ornery younger brother Freddie, the cold and stuffy father Richard, the aristocratic friend-since-childhood who thinks Bex isn’t good enough Bea, the sister who seems to grab a lot of attention Lacey. But reading along, via time jumps to the past and back, as the American commoner and the future king get to know one another as friends, fall in love, and dream of their life together is just plain fun. Of course, it isn’t all sunshine and roses. There are the tabloids, of course. And there are Nick’s ex-girlfriends, who travel in the same social circles and are thus still around more often than Bex would like. There are the inner workings of the royal family, which are beyond complicated (as one might imagine). And of course, there is the fact that Nick will one day be king, like it or not. His life has been planned out already, and Bex really is, in a way, “filling a position,” as Bea calls it early on in the book, rather than becoming the wife of the love of her life. The authors say they were inspired by Will and Kate, and in thinking about what happens after the prince kisses the girl at the end of the fairy tale. There’s a big difference between being a girlfriend and being a member of the royal family. One Amazon review I saw before reading this book talked about being in a fishbowl where everyone can see everything you do, from all sides, at all times.

The Royal We is a fun and entertaining read. Perfect for sitting on the beach or on the deck this summer! One last note about this book: I assume it goes without saying that I adored the character of Gaz? And not just because he was named after a font (Garamond)! This makes me regret not studying abroad in college even more. (Truly, it’s my one and only real regret in my life, but if I could have a friend named after a font, which I just don’t know would happen in the good ol’ USA, that would be awesome.)

What books have you been reading lately?