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Book Review: The antithesis to the American Dream

Damon van der Linde | The Link | Lifestyles | January 9th, 2006

MONTREAL (CUP) -- How Not to Get Rich (and why being bad off isn't so bad) is a much-needed satirical antidote to the plethora of "get rich quick" books on the market.

Written by author Robert Sullivan, a Vogue, New Yorker and New York Times contributor, this book is a meandering journey through the trials and tribulations of people getting rich by accident, and the author's advice as to how to avoid the pitfalls through step-by-step techniques.

However, most of these step-by-step techniques are actually just strings of useless statistics and non sequitur anecdotes. This writing style could become tiresome, but being a slender 95 pages, the reader never really has a chance to get bored with the formula.

The book includes simple illustrations by Scott Menchin, who has contributed to various magazines, including Rolling Stone. He also illustrated Bob Dylan's children's book, Man Gave Names to All the Animals.

I'm sure when many people hear the title of this book they think to themselves "I don't need to know how not to get rich, I'm a student. I'm already very not rich."

Well, according to Sullivan, if you are not careful, you could be sadly mistaken. The fact is, by pursuing any sort of degree you are putting yourself gravely at risk of becoming rich at some point in the future by developing a kind of marketable skill. Except maybe for English lit majors.

You probably don't have to worry very much about getting rich. Luckily, more education does not necessarily equal more money. In fact, one of Sullivan's techniques for not getting rich is to pursue a lengthy, well-rounded education.

More important than the author's advice on not getting rich, is his advice on being happy and not being rich. Accomplishing both is made remarkably easy by pursuing hobbies that you enjoy and will not make you rich at the same time like poetry, Ukrainian egg painting, quilting and sex.

One of the best ways this author recommends to not getting rich is wasting plenty of time reading books (other than books on how to make money of course, although he does point out that most of these book are themselves a great way to waste time and not get rich). The time spent reading How Not to Get Rich, for example, was time that could have otherwise been used finding some way to get rich.

Buying and reading this book is an enjoyable waste of time and money, but that's the whole point.
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