The thought of writing a book review is strangely intimidating to me. It makes it sound like I have to remember to say everything I think about the book and that it has to make sense and be tied together with a nice 1-5 star bow. My interaction with books does not lend itself to this type of summary. Books make me think. A lot. While I’m reading them, after I’ve finished the whole book, and often randomly for many years to come.
So instead of a review, I’ve decided to write “afterthoughts”, as in what I was thinking about right after I finished the book. It may not be the most important things I think about a book (often those rise to the surface over time), but it is something. And that is important.
Unintentionally, I read these two books simultaneously and finished them in the same afternoon. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner is a novel about two married couples’ friendship, throughout life, as seen through the eyes of one of the husbands. All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending by Laura Vanderkam is a exploration of places where money and happiness intersect and a challenge to be intentional with every dollar, in creative ways. In some ways, it may seem weird to have been reading these two books at the same time. Besides the convenience of being able to switch between fiction and non-fiction as the mood dictated, the books ended up touching on a common theme: the happiness of experience.
My favorite things about Crossing to Safety were its realism and its focus on an underrepresented topic in books, friendship between married couples. I loved the story because I could relate and connect to it so easily. In it, I saw many pieces of my own life and loved watching the happiness of knowing and experiencing life with another person unfold.
All the Money in the World, on the other hand, was interesting and engaging because of its unique perspective on money. Instead of focusing on it from the angle of saving, it explored spending. Everyone’s financial situation is different, so I appreciated Vanderkam’s openness to different possibilities. Instead of telling you how to spend your money, she asked questions and offered scenarios and ideas. This caused the wheels in my head to start turning regarding my spending and ideas about money, without having prescribed a step-by-step procedure to happiness. More often than not, though, her suggestions leaned towards spending money on things that create as many experiences or moments of happiness as possible.
These two books continued to confirm my suspicion that, although a further drive, my new library has a great selection and I can’t wait for my next trip over there to replenish my library book stash.
Have you read these books? Do you have any recommendations for other books touching on the happiness of experience?