January 2013: What I Bought and Read
On to this month!
(FREE) BOOKS I READ THIS MONTH
I set myself a goal of finishing all the free e-books in my library that I’ve been buying for free with Swagbucks but haven’t been reading (for whatever reason).
This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read in 2013, and I haven’t even made it through my stash of unread books.
It is THAT good.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be reading this, and screaming in your head: YES! YES!! That’s why I left that company/client as a consultant/customer!!!
You can also see the rise and fall of companies based on their leaders, and it collects so much common sense in one simple book, it’s brilliant.
If you want yet another brilliant will-make-it-to-my-2013-list book, this is it.
If you’re a bit of a sarcastic cynic of all this bubbly optimism prevalent in American and Canadian society today, in addition to being as much of a fan of dry British wit as I am, this is the book for you.
It’s a great read just by itself, as he goes through the experience of going to over-the-top motivational speeches right down to attending the Day of the Dead in Mexico.
It is also a very good book on how to achieve happiness which is basically to seek for things that give us fleeting happiness, but it is to wallow in the negativity and embrace it so deeply, that anything in contrast is better than that.
Very philosophical without being too hoity-toity, a great read, funny, and every chapter had me devouring every word, which is a sure sign (for me) of an excellent writer. I’m off to see if he has written any other books. I’ll buy anything this guy writes.
As I read through this, I’m started to look back at my own traits (good and bad), and I realized that a lot of it comes from my parents, as the book suspected.
Of course all the bad ones for me aren’t necessarily always bad ones if you look at them at a different angle.
Anyway, there’s also a quiz you can take at the back, and apparently on the Newcastle Personality Assessor I score low on Extraversion, Neuroticism, but high on Conscientiousness, Agreeableness and Openness.
I always thought I was more extroverted, but if you define that as “someone who likes to plan events, throw parties, and constantly socialize with others”, that is absolutely not me.
I don’t really like going to events, I prefer smaller parties or dinners with friends I want to see and can talk with and connect. I also don’t like going out every night. Once a week is fine, or less.
Quality over Quantity, I guess.
I’m also surprised at how Agreeable I am. You might be too 😉
I liked it, but it came about 10 years too late for me. I didn’t learn anything new.
I’ve already known for a while that:
- living below your means is the best way to become wealthy
- saving a lot of your income, as much of it and as young as possible is the key
- investing in index funds will beat about 70% – 80% of actively managed funds out there*
It comes highly recommended by me if you are starting out in the world of personal finance, want to become wealthy, and are learning how to manage your money. You will definitely not find a better book to cut your PF teeth on, as it covers the investing basics and I agree with pretty much everything he said.
This is not a “this is how you budget” book, so don’t expect it to go over that kind of info. Read this post instead: Ideal Household Budget.
I’d say it’s also an excellent book (and an easy read) to give to pre-teens to read than The Millionaire Next Door (that can be Book #2). I would have definitely loved this book if I had it available to me as a kid.
*If you really want to learn more about index funds, I can’t recommend this book enough as the first one I ever read about Index Fund investing: Index Funds: The 12-Step Recovery Program For Active Investors. Funny enough read, and it is pretty darn in-depth if you need more coaxing into believing that index funds really are the best choice for ordinary folk.
Extremely inspiring, even if you’re not an artist.
It’s one of those motivational books that doesn’t feel like one.
Easy to read (took me about an hour), very thought-provoking, although a lot of it is about 80% common sense if you poke around motivational blogs.
I really enjoyed it, and it’s something great to pick up once in a while and re-read to get inspired.
I chose this book on a whim, and I can’t say that I regret the purchase, but it didn’t teach me anything new, but then again, I’m REALLY into clothes anyway, so I am not sure there is a book out there that could teach me anything new, to be honest.
I had thought it’d be more of a clinical, psychological look into the philosophy of clothing, with research and studies packed with info on every page. I really like reading about the psychology of style, and how clothing can affect you, but it was more of a wardrobe-psychologist’s view of how she deal with different types of women who were stuck in a clothing rut rather than a research-y kind of book if that makes sense.
I’d recommend this for ANYONE who is thinks they may have a problem with their style and clothes but can’t figure out what it is. You are sure to find an example that will fit you in here, and tips on helping you break out.
Examples of people she helps in the book that you can use as a template for yourself:
- Girl who dresses too sexy at work because she doesn’t want to look ugly, ends up looking hoochy
- Woman who dresses too old because she had kids and lost herself in her “Mom” role
- Woman who dresses too dowdy and has been passed over for job promotions
- Girl who has no idea what her personality is outside of her work scrubs (which she wears 24/7)
- Girl who has no idea how to bring her entire wardrobe together to find her style
- Shopaholic who buys only labels and brand names, but is in debt because of it
It has a nice twist in the book in that it gives you a whole bunch of checklists to go through for yourself as well, and deals with the inner emotional trauma of why your wardrobe is a hot mess, rather than just giving you a checklist of: Buy This, Not That.
No body shape analysis here by the way, so don’t expect a chart were you figure out what fits your body type the best. I’d suggest this blog — You Look Fab instead.
(FREE! .. actually free, not Swagbucks-free)
If you don’t know this dark, Russian classic (sounds like a beginning of a coffee ad), the short story is it’s about a guy that commits a crime (murder) and in the end, his punishment was the psychological pain he goes through at trying to keep it under wraps.
Dark. Haunting. Russian.
That’s how I can sum it up in 3 words, and it was pretty hard to put it down to take breaks. I just wanted to know what happened next.
FREE APPS I LIKE:
Has sessions in 20-minutes, 30-minutes and 60-minutes.
So I originally budgeted $600 a year towards Yoga classes ($50/month), but I’m thinking if I can just get a free app to walk me through workouts, why the hell do I need to pay for an instructor? I don’t need to spend that $600.
I have the mat, I am not a total newbie, and I just need someone to guide me through the poses with the sound of their voice.
I don’t need the physical instructor there, the incense or all the omming or telling me in a soft dreamy voice that I should let me soul be free and be grateful for today.
I just need the stretching, not the brainwashing.
I can do it at home.
No need to put on real clothes (winter is a pain in the butt), go outside, get to the studio, change, go through yoga, change back into real clothes, go back outside just to come home again.
Let’s not even mention how much of a pain that would be if I had to work as well, and how going to yoga AFTER or BEFORE work would not be an option.
Taking a page from Jerry Seinfeld, I’m going to mark off each day I don’t buy anything for my Wardrobe.
Should be a nice motivator to keep all red X’s in my calendar.
This month went REALLY well. All X’s!!! I only had one almost-blip on the 20th when I almost bought a coat but then BF talked me out of it.
CLOTHES I KEPT FROM LAST MONTH
BANANA REPUBLIC PLEAT BUTTON FRONT TUXEDO TANK — $29.99 — KEPT!
ORIGINALLY $85, MARKED DOWN DOWN TO $59.99, WITH ANOTHER 50% OFF IT WAS $29.99
I like the style of tuxedos, and little piped details. We’ll see if this fits, I bought it in a 0, hoping it’ll fit, but it may be too tight (I’ll return it if it isn’t flattering).
It would be really cute under any kind of blazer.
Hope it doesn’t make me look like a linebacker. This and the red ponte v-neck dress are the two things I can see myself keeping FOR SURE.
Update on why I kept it:
I ended up trying it on and keeping it. Looked great, fit great in a size 0.
The mandarin collar is especially nice and flat against my neck rather than being floppy.
Felt more like a broadcloth rather than a soft cotton, which I prefer so that it won’t pill as easily or show wear.
LOVED the front with the tuxedo look (looks heavenly under a blazer), and it had a nice straight line in the way it draped, which helped minimize my larger shoulders.
CLOTHES I RETURNED FROM LAST MONTH
Technically I got these items in December 2012 but they didn’t ship until January 2013, so I couldn’t tell you if I’d keep them or not.
The other items I got in December 2012 but hadn’t received until this month, I already knew I would keep.
Luckily, I returned everything below to Banana Republic except the tuxedo top, so I’m about $230 back into the black, and extremely thrilled with the top I kept.
BANANA REPUBLIC WHITE FLANNEL MARTIN FIT TROUSER IN A SIZE 2 — $40 — RETURNED
I like the Martin Fit pant from BR.
I bought it sight unseen, Size 2 (same size as my old Martin Fit in grey linen), and when I touched it in-store, it felt super soft.
I have a lighter-weight white, straight-legged pant, but this one is cut a bit more fitted (less wide-leg), and is in a more autumn-and-winter friendly material.
I may return them anyway, because I already have white pants, but I need to see if these are going to be useful in my wardrobe or not.
Also, I have to ask myself if I’d wear white in Autumn to justify these. White pants are more of a Summer thing to me.
Update on why I returned it:
A size 2 is not a size 2 any more. My old pants in a size 2 Martin Fit from Banana Republic fits well. This particular pair, was at least 2 sizes too large. I’d need a 00!!
It also looked lumpy, didn’t feel heavy enough as a thick, luxurious wool and although I gave it points for being lined, the whole fit threw me off.
BANANA REPUBLIC METALLIC HOUNDSTOOTH DRESS — $65 — RETURNED
Bought this sight unseen and untouched. It looked interesting.
I like houndstooth but the black and white is too strong for me, so this metallic gold, textured kind of sheath dress looked like it was right up my alley.
May return it, it looks like it might be too fancy to wear normally…. even to work.
I like how it looked in the store as well, nice and textured. I have to have it in my hands and on my body before I decide what to do with it.
Update on why I returned it:
It felt nice when I touched it in-store, but when I tried it on, it felt really cheap.
Stiff, kind of scratchy, and not at all what I like. I think I’m more of a ponte jersey girl, and this was not anywhere close to it. The drape was awful, felt like I had wrapped myself in textured butcher paper.
Didn’t feel thick or soft enough, and the size 2 that I purchased, was also too large. It was too much fabric in general, I’d have to size down to a 0.
Oddly enough, the size 2 in the ponte jersey was perfect, but I think it was due to the material being thicker, a bit more stretchy and comfortable.
BANANA REPUBLIC BUTTON-SHOULDER TWEED PULLOVER = $36.36 — RETURNED
They had me at “tweed”. Something about the fabric makes me swoon.
It’s also paired above with the White Martin Fit Flannel Pants I bought in addition to this sweater.
I hope it isn’t itchy, even though 2 reviews say it might be a tad itchy.
I’ll return it if it is, because my skin can’t stand it (eczema and all..)
Update on why I returned the pullover:
Itchy. Just very slightly itchy, but it was just itchy enough for me to not be able to wear it without a long-sleeved top underneath.
I didn’t feel it at first until I started moving around…
A shame, as it looked like a nice sweater and it fit very well!
BANANA REPUBLIC LEATHER MARKET PAIGE PINKING SHEARS TOTE IN COGNAC — $77.60 — RETURNED
I don’t particularly need a tote, but I’m a sucker for soft leather, and long handles.
It’d be easy to grab and go, although I will probably end up returning it for 2 main reasons:
- No zippered closure (only magnetic)
- May be too big against my frame (reviews say that it’s massive!!)
- Leather handles have to be long enough and secure (some reviewers said it was too thin)
I am also not a fan of the price at $77.60. I would keep it if it was $25, or something like that.
It would be a great work or bookbag tote.
I touched the smaller version in store, and was surprised at how plasticky the leather felt. We’ll see if this one is of a better quality or not.
Otherwise, no skin off my nose to return it as well. I can stick to my Longchamp Pliage.
Update on why I returned it:
It was HUGE. Massive!
The handles were also very stiff, which is exactly what causes shoulder pain because the handles don’t mold or flex to your movements (like the LC Pliage..)
Just to get an idea of how big it is, I put some examples, first with a clean yoghurt tub (500g):
JUST LOOK AT IT!
Then with my Large Longchamp Pliage over it, which is already a rather large bag to begin with, but manageable:
The purse is HUGE. Way too big, about 30% too large for anyone under the height of 5’7″ I think.
I could practically wrap my whole body in the bag, that’s how wide and long it was.
This made me laugh:
To put it into context, this “Phantom” bag by Celine (a designer), costs $2800 and has been raved about by all these fashionistas who get the money to buy the bags by…. I don’t know how, actually.
Anyway, this is what it looks like:
…then I had this conversation that made me actually laugh out loud about the bag looking like a monkey’s face.
And so it does…!
Enough of my craziness.