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Editor's Notes: Business, books and blather

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Robin Doussard
Thursday, September 10, 2009
A recent afternoon in the business book section at Powell's reaffirmed my belief that you can tell the mood of the nation by current titles: How the Mighty Fall; House of Cards; Fool’s Gold. My beloved pundits are great Monday morning quarterbacks, but didn’t see the ball coming until it whacked them in the nose. Nice work, fellows! I’d give you $30 of my hard-earned money but I can’t because I, and the nation, agree with you: Everyone’s a crook!

Moving down the book aisles, I found that as a woman I have a few issues to work out that I hadn’t yet come to terms with. Diane Sawyer (nationally touted as “63 and still gorgeous!”) promises me in her blurb for Womenomics that it’s a "personal, provocative and challenging book for career women who want less guilt, more life." Gorgeous needs to fix her life? I’m in!

With the authors’ help, I will be able to demand the balance that’s been missing in my life; stop fighting the old gender wars and use my power to negotiate, say no and damn it all, stop feeling crappy about it, not to mention getting over the guilt I feel about hating Diane. I immediately felt guilty about despising books that suppose women have been victims most of their life and then ask them to spend $28 to get out of the mess. I decided not to buy this book, and I didn't feel guilty. Golly, working already!

I also passed on buying Bitter is the New Black.She had the perfect man, the perfect job — hell, she had the perfect life— and there was no reason to think it wouldn't last. Or maybe there was, but Jen Lancaster was too busy being manicured, pedicured, highlighted, and generally adored to notice.” Even though the writer eventually loses it all and learns Great Lessons in Life, I just couldn't relate. I hate her as much as I hate that America’s Junior Miss turned anchorperson.

Just as I was giving up hope of finding a business book that truly spoke to me, I found it. From the author of Shut Up, Stop Whining, and Get a Life, and It's Called Work for a Reason, comes You’re Broke Because You Want To Be.

The author, Larry Winget (rhymes with “wing nut”), bills himself as the Pit Bull of Personal Development. He says I’m strapped not because of low wages, high taxes, crushing medical bills or a college education that costs $4 million a year for a lousy state school, but it’s because I’m a lazy, self-indulgent, disgusting, fat baby. One of the blurbs exults: “Read this book if you need a good kick in the butt!" Zowie, that’s me alright. I’m an over-spending, under-earning slob and I need the Pit Bull’s help. And he promises in the foreword that this isn’t one of those “cutesy, parable books.” Thank god. I hate those cutesy parables even more than I hate Junior Miss.

I quickly scanned his tips to the masses: pay off your credit card; don’t buy new things; say no impulse buys … eat less. What? Yes, there it is printed on the page. Eat less. Frankly, Larry says, I’m also overweight because of the same lack of discipline that makes me over spend.

I was willing to give this about one second of serious consideration when I heard a soft cooing from the nonfiction bestsellers, just one aisle over. Those books were celebrating eating, cooking in Paris, drinking in Portland, finding the perfect peach. Eat more, they whispered, not less.

I put the Pit back on the shelf. You can have my credit cards, my new car, even that Prada bag I bought on sale and never once used. But you can have my calories when you pry them from my cold, indebted hands.

Robin Doussard is the Editor of Oregon Business.

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