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Review: The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Richest Man in Babylon
3 Stars

A co-worker insisted on lending me this book. It doesn't sound like my kind of thing, but I didn't know how to tell her I wasn't interested. We'll see how this goes...

Written in a format that leaves me wondering whether to classify this as fiction or non-fiction, The Richest Man in Babylon uses the framework of established Babylonian men telling stories about how they gained their hard-won financial wisdom. The book is short and surprisingly readable for someone who doesn't understand much about Finance. I understand budgeting and saving, but that's as far as I go with that.

The advice in the book seems sound to me, at least the parts that I understand. It boils down to:

1. Live on 70% of your income.
2. Save 10% of your income.
3. Use the remaining 20% to pay off your debts.

Sound financial advice.

Then it tries to get into investing. I just don't get it. The story in the book is about a man giving a shield-maker money for his business and the shield-maker pays him back with interest. I can't translate that into modern times. Oh, I know it's something about investing, but I'm so vague about how that works that I'm just left scratching my head, wondering where I can find an honest shield-maker.

The format worked well for me. I was getting a little bit of a story along with my Financial Advice, so that made it easier. "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down" kind of thing.

I did get tired of all the "Thee" and "Thou." Maybe I'm wrong, but that's just King James English, right? I don't really think that's how ancient Babylonians talked. Just write "your" and be done with it. I guess it was supposed to give this a "wisdom of the ancients" kind of feeling, but it just irritated me.

At 140 pages, this will probably be the shortest, easiest book you will ever read about money matters. If you're looking for monetary advice (I wasn't--I don't know why my co-worker shoved this at me), this is a good place to start.

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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