As always, I “read” this book via audiobook. That may have colored my review. A good book doesn’t make a good audiobook! In this case, I did enjoy the reader’s voice. It wasn’t distracting, but it wasn’t Oscar-worthy either. It was very NPR-neutral, if that makes sense.
I found Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much* a few years ago while perusing a book store on vacation, but I just got a chance to listen to it. And although the psychology of scarcity was fascinating, I had a hard time finishing this one. If I’m being honest, I’ve had a hard time getting motivated by anything lately. I don’t think it was just the book, but I did keep waiting and waiting and waiting for the authors to make some conclusions. The conclusions or ways to outsmart scarcity didn’t come until the bitter end– literally the last 10 minutes of the book. That was incredibly irritating, but I did learn a few things.
The authors, both academics, had a very academic way of approaching scarcity, but explained the psychology in terms easy enough for the lay-man to understand. Basically, the premise is this: We all have a limited amount of “bandwidth” or the ability to make decisions. People who are poor, dieters and people who are busy all have limited bandwidth. Limited bandwidth is bad because it causes people to “tunnel.” When people tunnel, they can’t see all of the options available to them. They then make poor decisions. The poor decisions aren’t necessarily their fault, but instead, a problem of bandwidth. So how do we give dieters, busy people and poor people more bandwidth? Well, dieters can be put on an easier diet– like the Atkins diet that only counts carbs instead of counting calories. Busy people need to take a “sabbath.” One day a week to do no work. And poor people, well, that one is harder. Different things will work for different situations. For example, instead of being given S.N.A.P. benefits at once a month, the benefits could be broken up weekly.
Although this book took me a long time to get through, knowing the psychology behind scarcity will help me to make some positive changes in my life. I tend to be an all-or-nothing gal and I know that if I give myself “slack” in my budget, in my time, and in my life, I’ll be much more successful. I know that I need to have a day (or days!) during the week to do nothing. Right now I don’t have that and it wears on me. I also need to give myself a little slack in my budget. When I feel deprived, I end up spending more.
Overall, I think Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much* was fascinating, but could be skimmed instead of read in it’s entirety.
Have you ever read this book? What did you think about it? Got any suggestions for the next book club book? I’d love to hear them in the comments!