Saturday, April 08, 2006

Dave Barry's Money Secrets

Dave Barry is my favorite humor writer. I've read almost all his books and he never fails to make me laugh. His Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys, where he differentiates 'men' and 'guys', is probably the funniest book I've read ever(though my wife was pretty disappointed when she realized that she had married a 'guy' and not a 'man' :-) and I've enjoyed books like Dave Barry does Japan and Claw Your Way To The Top thoroughly. He has a unique style and an interesting perception of common, everyday things and in Dave Barry's Money Secrets, he turns his attention to finance. Maybe because I've become used to his style or maybe because the topic doesn't lend itself to much humor, this book didn't tickle my funny bone as much as his earlier books.

This book is probably the exact opposite of Dollar Wise Penny Foolish since it takes a funny look at everything related to finance. Barry touches on everything from finding a job to saving for retirement and talks about, among other things, personal finance, insurance, the stock market and traveling on a budget. The book is not completely laugh-less ofcourse. Each chapter guarantees atleast a couple of laughs but that is just not enough for a writer of Dave Barry's stature.

I think Barry is at his funniest when he tackles men and women and the relationship between them (I think this is the funniest piece I've ever read on how men and women view relationships). So the chapter on how to argue with your spouse about money is the funniest in the book. Among the other chapters, some, like the chapter on companies' annual reports, find their mark while others, like the guide to tipping, are humor dead zones.

I think there are a few reasons why the book didn't work for me. With all the financial scandals we've heard about recently, companies and their CEOs have become rather easy targets. So that dulls the effect of some of the potshots Barry takes at them. The repeated mention of people like Donald Trump(again, too easy a target) and Suze Orman gets a little tiring. And there's always the possibility that I've had too much of (or grown over) Barry's style.


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