How to Achieve the Ultimate Humblebrag

Living Well Spending Less Review

living well spending less review

Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup is essentially twelve tips on how to live “The Good Life.” Soukup, who is a blogger turned author, begins be redefining what “The Good Life” is, biblicaly speaking. She shares her own story about how redefining what a good life was transformed her worldview, which she thinks that it can for you, too.

I had high hopes for this book. The reviews (not that I read them in detail) have seemed positive, and I like the idea of simplifying life. My husband and I have been donating boxes of “stuff” left and right, plus trying not to accumulate any more possessions that aren’t food. Watching my entire family exchange gifts at Christmas was funny because it was all coffee, beer, and candy. I kid you not.

Soukup uses the introduction to beat the dead horse of jealousy created by social media. There is plenty of praise on the internet for her transparency in the book, as she admits to falling into the trap of becoming envious of other people who share photos of their fabulous vacations on Instagram. But like we all already know, people only post flattering things. I’m not including a picture of me in my sweatpants typing this review, obviously.

All twelve “secrets” appear to be derived from her own experiences and then broken down into practical steps to help you achieve the goals or tips. I say “appear” because I couldn’t finish this book. I managed to skim through the first 50% of the book, but I just wasn’t interested enough to finish.

Soukup relies heavily on scripture and famous quotations to fill the pages. While I appreciate that she has drawn inspiration from the Bible and wise people to create her secrets, I just don’t have a fondness for inspirational quotations. It probably goes back to my freshman year of college when my randomly selected roommate plastered doodles of inspirational quotations all over our dorm room, so I put up a poster of Jack Bauer in retaliation.

Her secrets are practical, if you share her worldview. As a newly married, chronically ill, 26 year old with no plans to have children or a career anymore, the book is not very applicable to my life situation. Having to leave my job, redefine my own life goals, and having my financial resources already pillaged, it was kind of salt in the wound to read about her dropping out of law school because it didn’t make her as happy as she thought it would.

She writes about out of control budgets, while making sure to mention that her husband insisted that they paid for their home renovations in cash, so she didn’t do into debt. She mentions her two year hospitalization at McLean Psychiatric Hospital, which put her law school dreams on hold. What she doesn’t mention is that the hospital, famous for treating Sylvia Plath, James Taylor, and Ray Charles, as well as Susanna Kaysen, whose memoir about her stay was turned into a major film, Girl, Interrupted, costs 51% more per day than the average psychiatric hospital. Soukup writes about the power of creating habits, but when she shares about how her simple habits were broken during a vacation, it isn’t just any vacation, it’s “a trip of a lifetime.” It was a 29 day cross country trip that she had been talking about with her husband for a long time. How many people can take of 29 days of work? Every anecdote in the book is quick lesson for readers in the art of humblebragging. There is nothing average about Soukop, her life, or her circumstances. It is like someone quoting scripture about taking care of widows and orphans at the beginning of a book, but then writing about how to show hospitality through a perfectly decorated house with a picturesque view and serving guests exotic dishes. If you want to talk about your perfect house and the fancy foods that you enjoy cooking, do it. Don’t disguise it under the guise of showing the love of Christ.

She advises you to find your sweet spot and what inspires you, but I know what those are for me–they are just not physically possible. Again, she writes about setting long term goals with practical steps on achieving them. However, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get out of bed tomorrow, so… you get the point.

I was also annoyed at her drawing on on so many “inspirational” stories about well known and famous people who came from humble beginnings, worked hard, and achieved great things. One, we all already know those stories. They’re, well, famous. Two, those stories were just filler to make what could have been a self published eBook into a “real book.”

Soukup speaks from both sides of her mouth, so to speak, in the book. On one hand, she tells readers to pray for God to change their desires, yet she relies heavily on stories about friends or famous people who are “self-made.” They were either inspired by the brevity of life to work hard and pay their way through school, so they could make more money. Or they wrote lists of goals and worked hard to achieve and surpass them. Does Soukup want us to live a more simple life of contentment by praying for a contented heart or buckle up and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps? It is confusing.

Maybe this book is aimed at women, specifically mothers, who have it all and don’t want to feel guilty about it. She takes the readers on a little guilt trip with a list of all the things we have that most people don’t, like water to drink, a place to sleep, and the ability to read. But then her tips are about creating a cleaning schedule for your family, so you can organize all of the stuff that you aren’t even supposed to want anymore.

The next time I need a big dose of hypocrisy, I will make sure to finish this book.

Disclosure: Netgalley provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest Living Well Spending Less review.

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  • Dang, girl. Tell us how you really feel. Lol I love your honesty, it reminded me of how I felt reading The Happiness Project. Good review, I think I’ll skip out on this one 🙂

    • Hahaha well, the real problem with writing this review/rant was that there was just SO much material to discuss. No matter what page I flipped to, I could find a “humblebrag,” or something equally as nauseating.
      She could have easily made it a blog series or a free ebook for signing up for a newsletter, if she just took all the fluff out.
      I haven’t heard of The Happiness Project, but it sounds pretty bad just from the title!

  • Love your honesty in this post! I hate when people use Christianity as a guise for non-Christian intentions.
    P.S. – coffee, beer, and candy as presents?! Sounds perfect for me! Can I come crash your family’s Christmas next year!?

    • You can come to Christmas, but you must only bring perishable or usable goods. So, beer, coffee, candy, shoes, or a puppy.

  • I love your honesty when reviewing the books. I kinda want to read it now just to because I want to see how it plays affect in my life. I recently read One Thousand Gifts and everyone raved about it and I could barely finish it.

    • I’ve heard of that. Someone might have even given me a copy… I just think I dislike inspirational Christian books. I like a good theological book. Or when I was dating, I would read Christian dating books by theologians or pastors that I respected because they were practical and biblically sound and very specific. I don’t think generic “how to live a better life” books are applicable in their entirety to anyone, but this one wasn’t even biblically sound. She would quote scripture, but then kind of undermine her entire premise with her examples.

  • I have a random question. I have a few books I have been approved to review for Netgalley. My question…do you know if they set a time limit on how quick you have to finish/review a book? Also what reading device do you have? I have a Nook HD and despite following the directions…have trouble getting books on to it.

    • They usually have an “expiration” date, which you can see on your dashboard. You won’t be able to access the book after that date, usually a little bit after the book is published, unless it’s a book like this one, which was published last year, but they just approved it for me. It doesn’t have a date on it. I use the Kindle app on my ipad, so I don’t know anything about using a Nook. I had a regular Kindle before I had an ipad. Sorry!

      • Oh thank you! Good to know. Maybe one day I’ll switch to Kindle ha.

    • Oh, but I don’t know if you have to publish a review by a certain time. And you don’t even have to publish a review on your blog. You can just write a quick one and review it just for their website. (Different book programs have different policies), but with Netgalley, there have been a few that were bad and I couldn’t even read far enough to give a review, so I just said that in my review to the publisher. This book, however, irritated me, so I had plenty of material for a review. No matter what page I went to, I found something to write about.

  • Good to know – I will NOT be reading this!

  • Your book reviews are so real. I also am in the camp that I just don’t really enjoy inspirational christian books, especially when they are disguised as bragging books. I don’t want to read a book that is going to put me on a giant guilt trip just because I have a garbage disposal in my sink or what not.

    • Thanks! I try to be fair in my book reviews because I think that there is an audience for most books, even if I’m not that audience. However, no matter what page I flipped to in this book, I couldn’t help but cringe at something. She laid out a premise at the beginning and repeatedly undermined her thesis, over and over and over. I cannot abide hypocrisy, especially when it is bound up and published in a book. It is sold to women with high praises on the back, but the praises come from people who write the same kind of drivel.
      Good for her, I guess, for convincing a publisher to sell what should have been a series of blog posts in the form of a book.

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  • Thanks!!! To be honest, I had to cut myself off. No matter what page I flipped to in that book, I could find something bad to say. I try to review books with the idea that there is an audience for every book, and I guess there is one for this book–I just wouldn’t like them.