Monday, November 22, 2010

Book Report: Chicken Soup for the Shopper's Soul (More Than I Bargained For)

I was recently buying some books from and needed to spend about $3 more to qualify for free shipping. So, like any good bargain hunter, I browsed the clearance section in search of something cheap yet moderately interesting. The task turned out to be more difficult than I'd expected.

That's how I ended up settling on Chicken Soup for the Shopper's Soul. "What?!" you say, "Chicken Soup?!" I know, I know. The series is the epitome of cheese (and not the good kind). But it was the shopping bit that hooked me. Because the only thing better than shopping is reading about someone else shopping. That's why I adore Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series. It was with a thirst for such zany, light-hearted Becky Bloomwood-style adventures that I dropped Chicken Soup for the Shoppers Soul into my virtual cart.

Well, I was in for a surprise. Now, before I go on, I must reiterate that I bought this book with an eye toward escapism and self indulgence. To be sure, when the book arrived, its back cover seemed to promise just that: "Whether your preferred stomping ground is an antique shop or a mega mall, a bargain basement or a boutique, a flea market or Fifth Avenue, you'll be thoroughly entertained, inspired and validated by the true-life shopping adventures of like-minded people like you - people who freely admit they were Born to Shop - and who never cease to find fulfillment, enjoyment, and a few great buys doing it."

Now that I'm done with the disclaimer, I can continue.

This book depressed me.

It was not about women blithely racking up shoes and purses or trying to cram stuff into their already-overflowing closets or having Lucy Ricardo-esque spats with their husbands after their latest shopping spree, as I had anticipated. Oh no. It was about buying shoes for senile parents; elderly, fixed-income ladies surprising strangers with expensive, store-bought cakes; housebound online shoppers; and in one particularly disturbing anecdote, the difference between ground meat and ground beef. Whereas the Shopaholic books celebrate spending without the strings of a moral compass, this book seems to scream, "If you're shopping at the mall on a regular basis, then you're a terrible, selfish person." Now, I realize that the very Chicken Soup brand is one that heralds heartache. So, I assume the bulk of the blame in hoping for something uplifting.

Still, I probably should've resisted this bargain and ponied up for the shipping.

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