The title (the subtitle and the cover art too, for that matter) led me to believe the book was an expose´on the evils of materialism. Well aware of these evils and having never been tempted to keep up with the Jones, I set out to read the book for no other reason but an obligation to review it (I won it on a David C Cook Facebook competitions–which I highly recommend for its fun factor and simplicity).
But by page 5 I realized that my first impressions were wrong (Step up your packaging game, David C Cook!). The book is about bringing balance and perspective into your life by taking control of excesses in your life that give you a false sense of security and comfort. The book is more about moderation than frugality, more about being a steward than living a life of bare minimums.
Jantz begins with the first step towards getting rid of your Gotta Have It’s: Distinguish your wants from your needs. While it was a very elementary and obvious start, I was pleased that he did not get overly repetitious or insult my intelligence. When he says the obvious, it’s merely a to set me on familiar ground–sort of a launch pad–before sending me on a journey of exploring and understanding my deeply-rooted thoughts and feelings that control my choices.
By page 40, I was hoping the book would help me conquer my primary want for chocolate and my secondary want for all things sweet. But the next page came along and set straight my tongue-in-cheek thought: Referring to the role of electronics in our life, Jantz says, “Electronics can fall into two camps–gadgets that help you stay connected and gadgets that help you disconnect.” Of course, what he says about electronics is applicable to all the different components of our life. Throughout the book, he brought me back, again and again, to question stuff in my life and see if it connects me to or disconnects me from God and my responsibility as His steward on this earth.
Spread throughout the book are sections called Planting Seeds that tactfully helped me identify the excesses in my life . I was impressed with both Jantz and David C. Cook at the lengths to which they have gone to ensure these sections are non-threatening. First the title, Planting Seeds. How could you possibly be offended by or get defensive over it! Then, the font. An unobtrusive san serif, it stands apart from the rest of the book as if to say, “You don’t have to do this exercise if you feel uncomfortable.” And, finally, the language and directives of these sections are very low-key and more contemplative than finger-pointing in nature.
The entire book is a very comfortable environment, conducive to reflection and self-questioning. You never feel like Jantz is holding your feet to the fire till you ‘fes up and give it up. He is not about giving you a guilt trip. What he says is that there nothing wrong with my frivolous collection of antiques or my love for chocolate, but when “our wants, our preferences, our choices, our excessities supersede and obscure our true needs” (p 65).
(I received this book free from David C. Cook. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)