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Book Notes

Each year hundreds, if not thousands, of books are published containing advice and in-depth examinations of credit and money management issues. Consumer Action highlights the best of these resources the Book Notes section. The Editor welcomes your feedback and suggestions. Click here to e-mail the editor.


Monopolized Cover Art

Available July 21, 2020 and via pre-order—From the cars we drive to what toothpaste we use, Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power tells how a tiny group of corporations have come to dominate every aspect of our lives. Over the last 40 years our choices have narrowed, our… More About: Monopolized

Terms of Disservice

Terms of Disservice Cover Art

Hardly a day goes by without new headlines about the dark side of digital technology. Many of those headlines concern the role of social media companies in distributing false and misleading information that inflames social and political divides and even helps sway elections. Facebook, Google, and Twitter, once seen as… More About: Terms of Disservice

Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America

Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America Cover Art

Pharmaceutical breakthroughs such as anti­biotics and vaccines rank among some of the greatest advancements in human history. Yet exorbitant prices for life-saving drugs, safety recalls affecting tens of millions of Americans, and soaring rates of addiction and overdose on pre­scription opioids have caused many to revile the industry. Pharma: Greed,… More About: Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America

Land of the Fee

Land of the Fee Cover Art

In "Land of the Fee: Hidden Costs and the Decline of the American Middle Class", Devin Fergus offers a compelling explanation for the mounting problem of wealth inequality: the explosion of fees accompanying virtually every transaction that people make.

These perfectly legal fees are buried deep within… More About: Land of the Fee

The Truth about Social Security

The Truth about Social Security Cover Art

In, "The Truth about Social Security: The Founders' Words Refute Revisionist History, Zombie Lies, and Common Misunderstandings", Nancy Altman uses Social Security founders' own words to debunk myths and reveal the truth about the most popular and successful government program in our nation's history. According to Kirkus Reviews, "Altman's approach… More About: The Truth about Social Security

Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America

Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America Cover Art

Alissa Quart, executive editor of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, examines the lives of many middle-class Americans who can now barely afford to raise children.

Through firsthand storytelling, Quart explores how our country has failed its families. Her subjects—from professors to lawyers to caregivers to nurses—have been wrung out by… More About: Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America

Money Confidence: Really Smart Financial Moves for Newly Single Women

Money Confidence: Really Smart Financial Moves for Newly Single Women Cover Art

Dealing with money issues as a newly single woman (whether widowed or divorced) is the topic of Kerry Hannon's recent book, now in paperback. Hannon offers on-point advice to help newly single women rebuild their lives and get a grip on their finances as quickly as possible. Information includes practical, can-do suggestions that cover… More About: Money Confidence: Really Smart Financial Moves for Newly Single Women

The Aisles Have Eyes

The Aisles Have Eyes Cover Art

A revealing and surprising look at the ways that aggressive consumer advertising and tracking, already pervasive online, are being used by retailers near you. By one expert’s prediction, within 20 years half of Americans will have body implants that tell retailers how they feel about specific products as they browse… More About: The Aisles Have Eyes

Utopia for Realists

Utopia for Realists Cover Art

Rutger Bregman's 2014 TEDTalk about universal basic income (a guaranteed stipend for every single person funded by a wealth tax) at the time seemed impossibly radical. A quarter of a million views later, the idea is being seriously discusssed by leading economists and government leaders the world over. Bregman's idealism is… More About: Utopia for Realists

The Financial Diaries

The Financial Diaries Cover Art

The American Dream is backed by the belief that hard work and steady saving will ensure a comfortable retirement and a better life for one's children. But in a nation experiencing unprecedented prosperity, even for many families who seem to be doing everything right, this ideal is still out of… More About: The Financial Diaries

How to Be the World's Smartest Traveler

How to Be the World's Smartest Traveler Cover Art

One of our favorite consumer advocates, travel expert Christopher Elliott shares the smartest ways to travel in this tip-packed guide from National Geographic. Drawing on more than 20 years of experience as a consumer travel advocate, Elliott gives you the inside scoop on how to navigate the landmines of travel, with… More About: How to Be the World's Smartest Traveler

Weapons of Math Destruction

Weapons of Math Destruction Cover Art

In Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, a former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life. This is about the "dark side" of Big Data.

This is the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that… More About: Weapons of Math Destruction

Chain of Title

Chain of Title Cover Art

"Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street's Great Foreclosure Fraud" reveals the story of the enormous foreclosure fraud that caused millions of families to lose their homes based on false evidence by mortgage companies. The lenders had no legal right to foreclose—they messed up the chain of title to… More About: Chain of Title

All You Can Pay

All You Can Pay Cover Art

You might not care who can access your data because you have nothing to hide. But you should care, because corporations are using your data to control your decisions. As millions of consumers carry on unaware, powerful corporations race to collect more and more data about our behaviors, needs and desires. This… More About: All You Can Pay

The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It...Every Time

The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It...Every Time Cover Art

This book investigates the minds, motives and methods of con artists—and the people who fall for their cons over and over again. While cheats and swindlers may be a dime a dozen, true conmen—the Bernie Madoffs, the Jim Bakkers, the Lance Armstrongs—are elegant, outsized personalities, artists of persuasion and exploiters of trust.… More About: The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It...Every Time


Swiped Cover Art

Author Adam Levin's new book, Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves, addresses an unfortunate fact of life: identity theft here to stay. Passwords and aggressive spam folders are good but it's going to be difficult if not impossible to stop bad… More About: Swiped

Watchdogs and Whistleblowers: A Reference Guide to Consumer Activism

Watchdogs and Whistleblowers: A Reference Guide to Consumer Activism Cover Art

This valuable collection of articles and information is a one-stop source of facts and insights about consumer activism and the consumer movement and how it led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other key financial reforms. The contributors explore hundreds of major consumer protections that… More About: Watchdogs and Whistleblowers: A Reference Guide to Consumer Activism

The Black Box Society

The Black Box Society Cover Art

Every day, corporations are connecting the dots about our personal behavior―silently scrutinizing clues left behind by our work habits and Internet use. The data compiled and portraits created are incredibly detailed, to the point of being invasive. But who connects the dots about what firms are doing with this… More About: The Black Box Society

Navigating Life's Transitions

Navigating Life's Transitions Cover Art

To be prosperous, one needs a deep understanding of who and what you are and what you want out of life. Getting there can be hard work but this book makes the chore easier. With prompts on how to reach financial decisions and plan for short- and long-term goals,… More About: Navigating Life's Transitions

Other People's Houses

Other People's Houses Cover Art

In the wake of the financial meltdown in 2008, many claimed that it had been inevitable, that no one saw it coming and that subprime borrowers were to blame. This book is a response to such unfounded claims by Jennifer Taub, an associate professor at Vermont Law School. Drawing… More About: Other People's Houses

Factory Man

Factory Man Cover Art

This is the readable story of one man's battle to save hundreds of jobs by taking on China and demonstrating the greatness of American business. With over $500 million a year in sales, the Bassett Furniture Company was once the world's biggest wood furniture manufacturer. Run by the same… More About: Factory Man

House of Debt

House of Debt Cover Art

The Great American Recession resulted in the loss of eight million jobs between 2007 and 2009. More than four million homes were lost to foreclosures. Is it a coincidence that the United States witnessed a dramatic rise in household debt in the years before the recession—that the total amount… More About: House of Debt


Flashboys Cover Art

Flash Boys is about a small group of Wall Street guys who figure out that the U.S. stock market has been rigged for the benefit of insiders and that, post–financial crisis, the markets have become not more free but less, controlled by the big Wall Street banks. Working at… More About: Flashboys

Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Capital in the Twenty-First Century Cover Art

At the heart of political economy lie questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth and the prospects for economic growth. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, French economist Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from 20 countries, ranging as far back as the… More About: Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Worth It ... Not Worth It?

Worth It ... Not Worth It? Cover Art

Worth It ... Not Worth It? Simple & Profitable Answers to Life’s Tough Financial Questions aims to demystify complex, real-world dilemmas and break down the answers into simple, Do This/Not That solutions. Organized around six basic topics-Getting Started, Shelter, Automotive, Investing, Family Matters, and Retirement-this handy book is the Swiss… More About: Worth It ... Not Worth It?

Financial Justice

Financial Justice Cover Art

Financial Justice: The People's Campaign to Stop Lender Abuse tells the inside story of how an alliance of progressive consumer, civil rights, labor and fair lending groups (including Consumer Action) challenged Wall Street and the financial services industry in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008-2009. To the… More About: Financial Justice

The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement

The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement Cover Art

If you’re one of the 25 million single women over the age of 45 living in the United States today, AARP’s The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement addresses many pertinent issues about feathering your nest. In fact, you don't have to be "mature" or single to find this book… More About: The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement

How Wall Street Rips You Off

How Wall Street Rips You Off Cover Art

This book makes important points, albeit in scary fashion via horror stories that have happened to ordinary investors who trust the institutions and industry-run regulators who are "Wall Street". It walks readers through obstacles faced by the average investor in dealing with Wall Street and explores the ways in… More About: How Wall Street Rips You Off

The Ultimate Consignment & Thrift Store Guide

The Ultimate Consignment & Thrift Store Guide Cover Art

The Ultimate Consignment & Thrift Store Guide is a great source of information for the bargain shopper. The book has practical and specific advice on where to shop to save thousands of dollars on nearly new designer clothing and accessories, furniture, household items, sporting goods, books and much more. It… More About: The Ultimate Consignment & Thrift Store Guide

No Slack: The Financial Lives of Low-Income Americans

No Slack: The Financial Lives of Low-Income Americans Cover Art

The financial crisis lay bare how the financial system failed the nation but left hidden the many ways in which that system still fails the most vulnerable Americans. In this volume, Michael S. Barr, Michael S. Barr, a former assistant Treasury secretary for financial institutions and professor at the… More About: No Slack: The Financial Lives of Low-Income Americans

Greedy Bastards

Greedy Bastards Cover Art

"Greedy Bastards: How We Can Stop Corporate Communists, Banksters, and Other Vampires from Sucking America Dry" is a rant with policy undertones by a mad-as-hell Dylan Ratigan. Ratigan, host of MSNBC's The Dylan Ratigan Show, is infuriated by government corruption and corporate communism, incensed by "banksters" shaking down taxpayers,… More About: Greedy Bastards

Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It's Necessary, How It Works

Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It's Necessary, How It Works Cover Art

From the moment President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010, a steady and mounting avalanche of misinformation about the law has left a growing majority of Americans confused about what it is, why it’s necessary, and how it works. With cartoon illustrations by Nathan Schreiber,… More About: Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It's Necessary, How It Works

Living Large in Lean Times

Living Large in Lean Times Cover Art

"Living Large in Lean Times" is consumer advocate Clark Howard's comprehensive guide to saving money, covering cell phones to student loans, coupon websites to mortgages, investing to electric bills and more. Howard, Atlanta-based host of a talk radio and TV show and founder of the website clarkhoward.com, has lots… More About: Living Large in Lean Times


Scammed Cover ArtOnce upon a time store prices were simple and fair, businesses stood behind their products with guarantees free of fine print and loopholes, and companies genuinely seemed to care about their valued customers—but those days are long gone. In his new exposé, consumer advocate Christopher Elliot details the broken relationship… More About: Scammed

Your Money: The Missing Manual

Your Money: The Missing Manual Cover Art

J.D. Roth is the creator of the popular GetRichSlowly.org personal-finance advice blog that opines on personal finance topics far and wide. The topics covered include advice on making sensible decisions on saving, spending, and investing, the best ways to set and achieve financial goals, setting up a realistic budget… More About: Your Money: The Missing Manual

The Haves and the Have-Nots

The Haves and the Have-Nots Cover Art

Who is the richest person in the world, ever? Does where you were born affect how much money you’ll earn over a lifetime? How would we know? Why—beyond the idle curiosity—do these questions even matter?

In The Haves and the Have-Nots, Branko Milanovic, an expert on wealth, poverty,… More About: The Haves and the Have-Nots

The Monster

The Monster Cover Art

The Monster: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America—and Spawned a Global Crisis tells the story of the rise and fall of subprime lending by chronicling the rise and fall of two corporate empires: Ameriquest and Lehman Brothers. It is a true-crime exposé of… More About: The Monster


BROKE, USA Cover Art

This is a report from the economic fringes by Gary Rivlin, who spent two years writing this expose of the "poverty industry."  While doing his research, Rivlin hung out at the annual check cashers convention, spent time in Tennessee with the small-town debt collector who founded the $40-billion-a-year payday… More About: BROKE, USA

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Recovering from Identity Theft

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Recovering from Identity Theft Cover Art

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States and in many cases the victim has no knowledge of the theft until the situation is dire. Even then, most people have no idea what to do to get their lives back or how to regain… More About: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Recovering from Identity Theft

Bottled and Sold

Bottled and Sold Cover Art

Peter Gleick is scientist and freshwater expert as well as a MacArthur Foundation "genius." He drinks tap water. Why don’t the rest of us?

"Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water" follows how water went from being a free natural resource to one of… More About: Bottled and Sold

Avoiding the CON in Construction

Avoiding the CON in Construction Cover Art

Renovating a home is an expensive undertaking even when things go right. When things go wrong, unexpected costs and delays can be financially devastating. This book can help you make informed contracting decisions.

Kia Ricchi, a Florida-based contractor, says there are steps homeowners can take to ensure a… More About: Avoiding the CON in Construction

Memoirs of a Shopping Addict

Memoirs of a Shopping Addict Cover Art

Does shopping make you feel good or feel guilty? Do you buy more clothes than you really need? Spent looks at these difficult questions.

Little Avis Cardella devoured her mom's fashion magazines and learned to aspire to the images of a glamorous existence. Grown up, her relationship with… More About: Memoirs of a Shopping Addict

The Little Book of Safe Money

The Little Book of Safe Money Cover Art

The Little Book of Safe Money: How to Conquer Killer Markets, Con Artists, and Yourself is a guide to keeping your money safe from The Wall Street Journal’s investing and personal finance columnist, Jason Zweig.

“Keeping your money safe,” says Zweig, “has gone from being a luxury to being… More About: The Little Book of Safe Money

Making the Most of Your Money Now

Making the Most of Your Money Now Cover Art

Jane Bryant Quinn's Making the Most of Your Money has been called the best personal finance book on the market. Now Quinn's bestseller has been completely revised and updated for 2010 as a guide to financial recovery, independence, and success in the new economy.

Getting your financial life… More About: Making the Most of Your Money Now


Shoptimism Cover Art

Shoptimism is a guided tour through the parallel worlds of selling and buying. Part I, “Them Versus You,” explores “the Sell Side,” where marketing, retailing, advertising, and consumer-research forces take aim on the American buyer. Part II, “You Versus You,” looks at buyers and examines what people are looking… More About: Shoptimism

Get a Financial Life

Get a Financial Life Cover Art

Get a Financial Life is a real-world guide for "millennials" that teaches young people tricks for becoming the masters of their financial universes.

Get a Financial Life focuses on what you need to know when you're just starting to pay serious attention to money matters. Whether you earn $20,000 or… More About: Get a Financial Life

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture Cover Art

Many of us feel conflicted when buying cheap goods. You ask yourself, "How can this thing be produced so cheaply and still honor worker's rights and environmental safeguards necessary for all industry today? In "Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture," an Atlantic magazine correspondent looks at what may… More About: Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture

Asset Allocation for Dummies

Asset Allocation for Dummies Cover Art

Consumer Action is somewhat turned off by the "Dummies" series, not by the content of many of the books, which is excellent, but by the supposition that people who have not been educated on a certain aspect of life are inherently "dumb." Everyone can learn new things if they… More About: Asset Allocation for Dummies


Busted Cover Art

"Busted: Life Inside the Great Mortgage Meltdown" is a personal and journalistic look at the free-wheeling lending that led to our nation's housing crisis. A veteran New York Times economics reporter, Edmund L. Andrews was intimately aware of the dangers posed by easy mortgages from fast-buck lenders. But, eager… More About: Busted

Prescription for Real Health Care Reform

Prescription for Real Health Care Reform Cover Art

Conversations on how to reform healthcare are long-standing and varied. But healthcare costs have soared, health insurance companies get richer and even those who pay dearly for health insurance frequently find that their policies don’t adequately cover them when they need their coverage most.

Howard Dean—the physician and… More About: Prescription for Real Health Care Reform


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