Monday, May 18, 2009

Simple Prosperity: Book Review

Awhile back I vowed to read and review one personal finance book a month. The first book was Dave Ramsey’s, Total Money Makeover. But a funny thing happened on my way through my second month and second book, Simple Prosperity: Finding Real Wealth in a Sustainable Lifestyle by Golden native David Wann. I began reading this book with ferocious enthusiasm. I found myself say, “Yes” and “Tell it like it is, brother” through each paragraph. Because I enjoy good writing I savored each word.

Then about half-way through my enthusiasm waned. Instead of looking forward to the short time I set aside in my day for non-fiction reading I’d feel a sudden need to clean out a closet. Instead of cheering as read, I groaned.

Simple Prosperity does not pretend to teach a simple way to become financially wealthy. I knew that before picking it up and so I was not disappointed in that way. The book is an attempt to prove that living a simplified life will bring you the greatest wealth: health, happiness, community, friendship and maybe even love.

David Wann’s lifestyle as described in the book is enviable. He lives in a manner that is conscious of environment and the local and global community. It’s a responsible way of life. If only we all could live by his model. And that’s where the problem lies.

Less than half-way through the reader begins to understand that the only thing they will learn from Simple Prosperity is that David Wann is quite proud of his lifestyle. He lives in a shared community where the residents have a communal garden and share various responsibilities. He does not own a car and rides his bike everywhere. All wonderful, right?

Wann goes on and on to tell how the reader about his lifestyle and the benefits of it, but he never gives solid advice or suggestions on how the average person who works a job and raises a family can incorporate simple living into their lifestyle without completely ditching everything. Wann’s only immediate responsibility is to himself. His children are grown and he is single. His office is in his home. His life is very different from the average person.

Wann is also the author of Affluenza, which is a better choice if you’re looking for a book that will show you exactly where your life may be out of kilter with the rhythm of the world. Both books are a little bit of “well, duh” in that they point out the obvious ways we overdo everything and are far too influenced by what we think we’re supposed to do. Affluenza is filled with a self-assessments, some are silly, some eye-opening.

I may not have loved Simple Prosperity, but I don’t put down Wann’s intention to show the world that it’s possible to live a simplified life and enjoy abundant happiness. I completely agree with him. Simple Prosperity, however, even only at 257 pages felt much too long. “Okay, Okay you had me at ‘You get what you need’. Now tell me what to do.”


  1. I've some pretty powerful secrets to prosperity in a book I have just finished reading called Take the E Out of EGO & GO!
    It was written by a husband and wife couple, Jerry and Donna Goven.
    Their techniques for communications are spiritual but are in simple everyday language which is what is important to me.

  2. I wanted to make one correction. The author's name was spelled wrong. The correct spelling is Jerry and Donna Govan.


  3. Looks interesting I'll have to put that one on my reading list. Thanks!