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Jan 20 2016

New Year’s Resolution? Fat Chance!

by Hope L

Well, it’s that time again. Many of us will swear off sweets, junk food, cigarettes, spending frivolously, swearing, sloth, and rudeness to our fellows, among tons of other things we do or don’t do. It is time to follow through on that New Year’s Resolution.

Yeah, well, there won’t be any resolutions here, not this year. I’m already exercising more, trying to get plenty of sleep, and drinking lots of water. I had a good friend tell me a couple of years ago that I “shouldn’t drink so much Diet Coke because it turns to formaldehyde in one’s stomach.” Formaldehyde! Well, I’m sorry to say that almost one month after that ominous warning, my bottled-water-swigging friend passed away. And she wasn’t even sick. I’ve since upped my intake of Diet Coke.

One day the news is telling us caffeine is bad for us, the next day they are saying that drinking a couple of cups of java a day is good for you. Fat is bad–wait, no–fat is good for us. Salt–long the enemy of us all–my doctor told me to eat more salty foods to keep my blood pressure up. Alcohol is a no-no. Wrong again. A couple of glasses of wine a day provide antioxidants and often pair well with Hamburger Helper.

I mean, consider the following titles of books I just perused on the shelf at DCPL:

changebrainChange Your Brain, Change Your Body: Use Your Brain to Get and Keep the Body You Have Always Wanted by Daniel G. Amen

YOU:  The Owner’s Manual – An Insider’s Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger by Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz

The Detox Strategy: Vibrant Health in 5 Easy Steps by Brenda Watson

Seems like there is plenty of interest out there in changing one’s self. Even Oprah Winfrey herself, the queen of success, change, and financial prosperity, would still like to succeed at something that has long eluded her with a permanent solution: weight loss. She can be seen on commercials for a leading diet program, encouraging us to “try again” along with her.

Well, yeah, but why would this time be any different than all of the other times? I know how hard it is to be overweight because I was a chubbyish child and weighed 250 lbs. in my early twenties. It’s not easy carrying an extra 100 lbs. or more around with you every day.

But the worst part, in my mind, is the prejudice/bias/loathing regarding heavy people. Especially toward women. (I was once asked when the baby was due, and I was not pregnant. Not surprising, though, since I could gain 50 lbs. in the blink of an eye.) Tabloids love to put cellulite on their covers, with gal stars who are caught unawares frolicking at the seashore or pool in bathing suits showing their not-so-best sides. I’d like to see men treated in this way. Sure, on occasion, you will see a man’s beer belly or two photographed and put out there for all to see. But it is and always has been more about women.

I’m glad to report that the times are a-changin’, though, however slowly. Some very famous people nowadays are generous in size and, in part, may just owe their very success to the fact that they are “relatable” to the rest of us real people.

fatgirlewalkingMo’Nique, one of my favorite stars, has a couple of hilarious books (available at DCPL): Skinny Women Are Evil: Notes of a Big Girl in a Small-Minded World and Skinny Cooks Can’t Be Trusted.

And, also at DCPL: The fabulous Brittany Gibbons, aka Brittany Herself, and her book Fat Girl Walking:  Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin … Every Inch of It.

It’s about time for my mid-morning snack … But first, I do believe I will make just one New Year’s resolution:  I shall look both ways before crossing.

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Jul 31 2015

Buy One, Get One Free

by Camille B

Have you ever stood in line behind people at the checkout counter who had coupons and none of the coupons matched the items they were buying? The coupon said Bounty paper towels and they had Scott. They needed to get creamy peanut butter and they had crunchy. Or, they were supposed to buy two packs of bacon to get the third one free and they had only one. Even worse, the item in the cart matched the coupon but the coupon hGirl Shoppingad expired. Bummer.

Now I’m no extreme couponer myself, nor any type of shopping guru, but I do love a good sale as much as the next guy and always feel that sense of satisfaction when my money is well spent. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t like getting a good deal on a purchase. Whether it’s saving money on airline tickets, finding marked-down brands at the thrift store, or buying a pair of shoes at a BOGO sale, we have to admit that it feels good to snag a really sweet deal.

For some shoppers, this feeling can be almost euphoric–and I’m thinking about the after Thanksgiving sale while I’m writing this. Every year we see rational Americans totally losing it at these Black Friday super sales, getting crushed and trampled upon in the hopes of being one of the lucky firsts to get their hands on that big screen TV or other hot ticketed item, and even coming up with strategic moves with friends that would enable them to better divide and conquer.

Some of you are probably smiling right now as you reminisce about the madness. You had a blast as you slid across store aisles at the crack of dawn, dodging laden shopping carts whilst caught up in the throngs of the shopping frenzy.

For others, the mere thought of standing out in the cold at 5 a.m., waiting for your favorite store to open, shoots little darts of fear into your heart–I mean, there’s absolutely no way!

Given all of this, whether you’re a hardcore bargain shopper who goes all out, a shopper who has no clue about what he or she is doing, or one who loves a good sale but would still like to leave the store in one piece and with some shred of dignity, I think some basic rules should apply.

First of all, play nice.

Don’t be the type of bargain shopper who gives the rest of us a bad name. Don’t…

  • hoard items, hiding them so others shoppers won’t be able to find them–so that only you will know where they are on your return visit to the store.
  • grab up all of the merchandize on sale, leaving none for the other shoppers coming behind you. (It’s not your personal sale.)
  • run over other shoppers with your cart trying to get to the last sale item.
  • insult the cashier when you get to the register and your coupons don’t match the items in your cart.
  • take the last sales item out of someone else’s shopping cart. (I’ve never actually seen this one with my own eyes, but I understand it does happen.)

Shop sensibly.

  • Be organized and prepared. Double-check the date on your coupon before making your purchase. As a matter of fact, check it before even leaving the house and wasting a trip to the store.
  • Read store signs and labels carefully and make sure that they match the items you’re getting. You don’t want the embarrassment of holding up the line while an employee runs off to check on a price or name brand. (Awkward.)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a rain check–most stores are really good at offering them when they run out of sales items and will allow you to come back at a later date to make your purchase.
  • Sometimes you may have to bow out gracefully and take a pass on a coupon, even though it’s a really good one. Yes, three dollars off on a bag of cat litter is a really good deal, but do you even have a cat?

When a bargain seems too good to be true, it usually is.

  • Think twice about buying a hundred-dollar laptop that comes from the trunk of a car from some guy named Jeff. This might sound like a no-brainer, but people who get caught up in the thrill of getting something for nothing often make irrational decisions they wouldn’t normally make.
  • Beware of fake coupons, bogus sales, and sometimes even honest mistakes made by the companies themselves. As was the case earlier this year when United Airlines mistakenly offered customers first class, round trip tickets for $74.00–due to a glitch in their system and a “third party error”–the bookings were not honored by the airline, leaving hundreds of customers who tried to take advantage of the deal furious. These instances may be rare, but they do happen. So if it seems too good of a deal, investigate a little further before making an unwise purchase

So, when was the last time you had a real cha-ching of a deal?

And what are some of the favorite bargains that you lie in wait for? In the meantime, take a look at these books at DCPL:bargain_fever

Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World by Mark Ellwood

How to Shop for Free: Shopping Secrets for Smart Women Who Love to Get Something for Nothing by Kathy Spencer with Samantha Rose

Smart Shopping by Cecelia Minden

The Everything Couponing Book: Clip Your Way to Incredible Savings by Karen Wilmes

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Jul 3 2015

Who Stole My Identity?

by Camille B

Identity theft photo 2We’ve probably all heard these words before. “I’m sorry, your card has been declined.” Whether at a restaurant, department store, or at the supermarket buying groceries, the feeling of panic and confusion immediately sets in and our first thought is there has to be some mistake.

And sometimes there is, sometimes the problem is easily fixed right there and then. You’ve somehow slid the wrong card, there was a problem with the credit card machine, or you simply didn’t have enough funds in your account to cover the transaction at that time.

But what if it wasn’t that simple? What if the problem was none of the above? And, after further investigation, you discover that someone has tampered with your account and your personal information has now been compromised. You find out that your name, date of birth, Social Security number–all of it–is now in the hands of a thief. So the nightmare begins.

My decision to take a closer look at identity theft and its aftermath came after a close friend of mine recently had one of her personal checks cashed by a total stranger–and for quite a tidy sum at that. The bold thief did not use a blank check as one might suppose, but rather one that had already been signed by her and made out to one of her creditors. The check was altered to change the name of the payee and dollar amount. The process for her, of having to file a criminal report and getting the matter resolved with the bank, proved to be a long and arduous one. It was two whole months before she finally got the money back.

She is not alone in her experience. Identity theft happens every day, all around us, to people of all walks of life regardless of their age, color, sex or race–and we all like to think it won’t happen to us, until it does. As its name suggests, identity theft can leave you literally having to go to lengths to prove you really are who you say you are, all because someone else is out there pretending to be you.

I mean, imagine someone calling you up and telling you that you’ve accumulated thousands of dollars worth of debt after someone else fraudulently used your credit card to make unauthorized purchases, or being pulled over in a traffic stop only to find out that you have not one but several unpaid tickets–or worse, a warrant out for your arrest–all because someone used your identity to obtain a driver’s license.

And the longer you take to figure out what’s happening, the more devastating it can be, as was the case with one victim I heard about in my research. When he finally did make the discovery, it was several months later and the damage to his credit was brutal.

You might be reading this and thinking to yourself, “Well gee, I already knew all of that,” which is how I felt until it hit so close to home and I had to scratch my head and realize this could have easily been me.

When it’s just a random, faceless person out there we hear about in the news, sure we empathize, but the case feels so remote and far removed from us that after a while we become complacent, and sometimes even careless, regarding our own day-to-day affairs. So we should be more alert. Identity theft does not announce itself or give us a head start to prepare for its onslaught, nor can we treat it like we might jury duty–and hope “we won’t get picked.” Identity theft is a problem we should take proactive measures against.

And even though we cannot make ourselves one hundred percent foolproof from becoming victims (I’ve checked, there’s no vaccine), we can take preventative measures to secure ourselves and minimize the risk of theft. To me, some of it is just good old common sense and some of it may seem a bit extreme–but as the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The following are just a few safety measures we can take; it only scratches the surface I know, but it’s a good place to start in being a bit more mindful of our overall financial safety.

  • Invest in a good shredder, preferably one that cross-shreds, since truly determined thieves have nothing but time on their hands and would not be deterred by a few hundred strips of paper. Shred important financial statements including medical ones. If it’s something a thief can use against you, shred it.
  • Do not dispose of important paperwork away from home.
  • Be careful about putting bills with checks in the mailbox. This was okay years ago, but nowadays not so much. If a thief gets to that mailbox ahead of the mail carrier, there goes some very valuable information to use to commit fraud. Instead, invest in a mailbox that you can lock with a key–this might be a better option.
  • Take your Social Security card out of your purse or wallet and put it in a secure place along with all of your other personal documents. You do not need to be walking around with your Social Security card all day. Don’t make it easy for thieves to find your Social Security number and unleash a world of hurt, using your number to apply for credit, gain employment, open bank accounts, and even file taxes. Idnetity Theft Image 3
  • Reduce the amount of active credit cards you have. More cards mean more statements coming in and more bills going out. With two cards or less, it’s easier to keep track of activity and spot inconsistencies.
  • Always keep your checkbook in a secure place. Never leave it in the car while you run errands, on your desk at work, or any place where it can fall into the wrong hands. Even boxes of blank checks should be kept safe and out of sight.
  • Beware of phishing. Identity thieves are out there surfing the internet, “phishing” to get innocent victims like you and me to give out our personal information, using phony websites that look oh-so-real, and providing links for us to click on to take us to even darker places where they can try and pry the information from us. Invest in an antivirus program or a firewall that makes it difficult for hackers to access personal information on your computer.
  • Place a “Fraud Alert” with the major credit reporting agencies so you can be alerted when a request is made for credit using your name and information–this makes lenders and creditors go the extra mile before extending credit in your name.
  • Secure PIN numbers and passwords, and avoid using numbers that might be easy or obvious. A thief can unlock all types of information connected to your account using your password, so make it harder to decipher by using a combination of letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Monitor your financial accounts regularly. Nowadays you don’t have to wait for a monthly statement to come in the mail, you can check your account online–daily.

The Federal Trade Commission website is a good source of information on how to avoid identity theft and what to do if it happens to you. And, DCPL has books of interest too.

Identity Theft by Rachael Hanel

Stealing Your Life: The Ultimate Identity Theft Prevention Plan by Frank W. Abagnale

The Con: How Scams Work, Why You’re Vulnerable, and How to Protect Yourself by James Munton and Jelita McLeod

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Jun 29 2015

Move Over, Mr. Buffett!

by Hope L

Buff

Billionaire investment gurus beware. There’s a new kid on the block.

Of course, I’m exaggerating just a tad.

It’s funny, but I have found that as I get older, I will often revisit something that I had dismissed years ago as being boring, unimportant, and so not worth my time. One of those things was math. Another was accounting. I really should’ve made more of an effort to understand math and any effort at all to learn accounting. But boy oh boy, was I the bomb at shorthand!

So now, as I am attempting to learn about investing in the stock market, I sure wish I understood amortization, arbitrage, capitalization, ratios, yield, linear and exponential averages, simple moving averages, CPI, DCA, DPPs, DRPs, LEI, LWA, MACD, OCA, OTA, P/E, PSR, ROA, ROE, RSI…

OMG. What have I gotten myself into? No wonder my younger self avoided this stuff like the plague. I have slowly been exposing myself to acronyms ad nauseum and strange technical terms by reading Stock Investing for Dummies by Paul Mladjenovic, CFP (another one, natch), available at DCPL (there we go again!!!).

The reason for this sudden (and probably passing) interest in all things stock market? I’ve mentioned previously here that my hair is getting grayer, arthritis creakier, and wrinkles deeper and more plentiful. Old age and retirement are now on my radar. And, the 457 retirement savings account I started at work is doing quite well in its stock earnings, thank you very much Nationwide.

So why has the money my spouse and I saved and handed over to our CFP (Certified Financial Planner) and paid big bucks to invest in stocks and bonds, mutual funds, and other contrived hullabaloo (my technical term, not theirs), done exceptionally lousy?!!! We are oh-so-close to firing them, but they say, “Your current portfolio is diversified, designed to protect for a correction, and due to overvaluation presently in the U.S., with undervaluation in internationals and the EAFE being up 9% for the year, we are confident your plan is sound and in line with return parameters that match your risk tolerance and time horizon.”

I’ve decided that I have to know how to invest for myself or at least understand investing so I can monitor what’s going on with my money. Or try to learn. And what have I learned thus far? I have learned that it is far easier than it looks to make money in the stock market!

Sure, initially I started trading and purchased some Tesla stock (TSL), which shot up immediately. Then, thinking myself a financial wiz, I bought some Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY), certain that oil is a bargain now and has to go up. I bought SunEdison Inc. (SUNE) on a whim, and it shot up nicely. Feeling a bit cocky, and having read some promising things about the pharmaceutical company Biogen inching towards  finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, I bought a lot of Biogen, Inc. (BII). A couple of weeks passed and I was riding high. Then, that very technical, nasty phenomenon occurred (which I’m sure you probably already understand): What goes up must come down. Now I’m on a losing streak!

stock1

After some reading and re-reading, the Greek that is investment-speak is starting to mean something to me. It means, technically speaking, that I am out of my league. But hey, I am still the customer, right?

Sigh. I guess the CFPs are right. At least for now. But I’m still hankering to show them my favorite acronyms: TCIAR (The Customer is Always Right) because TPYS (They Pay Your Salary).

P.S.  FEAR NOT, dear readers! DCPL is here to help with many fine resources on investing. A few choices include:

The Handy Investing Answer Book by Paul A. Tucci

You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think: The 5 Money Secrets of the Happiest Retirees by Wes Moss

Invest Like a Shark: How a Deaf Guy with No Job and Limited Capital Made a Fortune Investing in the Stock Market by James “RevShark” DePorre

Oh, and of course, by Vahan Janjigian:

Even Buffett Isn’t Perfect: What You Can–and Can’t–Learn from the World’s Greatest Investor

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Looking to unburden yourself of old electronic equipment? This Saturday, February 21, Keep DeKalb Beautiful is partnering with the DeKalb County Police Alliance to host an electronics recycling event. Click here to see a PDF version of the flyer.

The event will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the DeKalb County Sanitation North Lot, located at 2315 Chamblee-Tucker Rd in the City of Chamblee. Proceeds from the event will go to support the building of the K-9 Memorial, which will be dedicated on May 15, 2015 as part of the 100 year anniversary of DeKalb County Police Services.

A variety of electronic devices will be accepted and recycled for free, including computers, cell phones, game consoles, and “anything with a cord!” Televisions are also accepted, but there will be a charge for CRT TVs & monitors, wooden consoles, and projection & plasma TVs.

They are also looking for donations of gently used shoes.

Even if you can’t make it out to this event on the 21st, DeKalb County has a couple of permanent sites for electronics recycling; click here for more information.

Want to learn more about the importance of electronics recycling? You might be interested in checking out the book High Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxics and Human Health by Elizabeth Grossman. You can also browse for books on recycling in general; click here to see of list of related materials.

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Jan 28 2015

Cutting Your Bills

by Glenda

bill-reductionsEvery year we make New Year’s Resolutions. They vary from losing weight to spending more time with family. Sadly, most of us give up on them by February. Last year I made the resolution to cut the cost of one of my bills–and I have kept that promise for one whole year.

I checked out a few books from the Library on saving money. After reading those books, I decided to cut my major cell phone carrier service. It was with one of the big three providers, but now I am with a smaller provider. My major-carrier cell phone bill was about $100.00 a month after they added all of the fees and taxes. Now my bill is $65.00 a month. That is a savings of about $35.00 a month. Over a twelve-month period, that is a savings of about $420.00. Imagine the things I can do with that money. And, now I have a smartphone–before I did not have a smartphone.

So if you are looking to save so money this year, check out some of these resources available at DCPL:

Clark Howard’s Living Large in Lean Times: 250+ Ways to Buy Smarter, Spend Smarter, and Save Money by Clark Howard, with Mark Meltzer and Theo Thimou

Living Cheaply with Style by Ernest Callenbach

Clark Howard’s Living Large for the Long Haul: Consumer-Tested Ways to Overhaul Your Finances, Increase Your Savings, and Get Your Life Back on Track by Clark Howard, with Mark Meltzer and Theo Thimou

The Money Class: Learn to Create Your New American Dream by Suze Orman

 

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Nov 12 2014

America Recycles Day

by Glenda

America RecyclesNovember 15, 2014 is America Recycles Day. Normally when we think of recycling, we think of taking our aluminum cans and plastic bottles to a recycling center or designated recycling place. However, recycling is so much more than that. When you donate clothes to various nonprofit agencies, you are recycling. Even when you donate old books to your local library, you are recycling because someone else is going to reuse your items. There are many other ways to recycle. You can make things with used materials–such as using old newspaper to make a piñata. If you would like to learn more about recycling, you may want to check out these books from DCPL:

Earth Friendly Crafts for Kids: 50 Awesome Things to Make with Recycled Stuff by Heather Smith with Joe Rhatigan

Recycled Craft Box: Sock Puppets, Cardboard Castles, Bottle Bugs and 37 More Earth-Friendly Projects & Activities You Can Create by Laura C. Martin

The Big Green Book of Recycled Crafts from editor-in-chief Susan White Sullivan and technical writer Lisa Lancaster

Beyond Recycling: A Re-User’s Guide – 336 Practical Tips: Save Money and Protect the Environment by Kathy Stein

Earth-Friendly Holidays: How to Make Fabulous Gifts and Decorations from Reusable Objects by George Pfiffner

 

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Jul 21 2014

MILLION$ OF PROBLEM$

by Hope L

cashMost of us have wondered what it would be like to win a million dollars. Or several million. Maybe even hundreds of millions!  If you have ever bought (or even thought about buying) a lottery ticket, sent in a Publishers Clearinghouse entry, or gambled to strike it rich: take note.  You’ve been warned.

I picked up Edward Ugel’s Money for Nothing: One Man’s Journey Through the Dark Side of Lottery Millions from my DCPL branch, and amusedly began reading.  My smile quickly faded.

Apparently, the problem for many lottery winners with millions of dollars coming in is that it is never enough. And not coincidentally, a great deal of the winners are also problem gamblers. The author has changed the names and situations. He spent many years as a salesman and upper level manager of a lump-sum company that purchases lottery annuities from “lucky” lottery winners who are desperate for money–he knows quite a bit.

From the front jacket:

Ed met hundreds of lottery winners and saw up close the often hilarious, sometimes sad outcome when great wealth is dropped on ordinary people. Once lottery winners realized their “dream-come-true” multimillion jackpots were not all that they were cracked up to be, Ed would knock on their door, offering them the cash they wanted–and often desperately needed. This cash sometimes came at a high price, but winners were rarely in a position to walk the other way. As Ed learned, few of them had the financial savvy to keep up with the lottery-winner lifestyle. In fact, some just wanted their old lives back.

As a salesman for The Firm, I got a crash course in the reality of what winning the lottery actually meant. Within a matter of days after my arrival, the myth of the lottery had been replaced with the surprising truth. Winning was, for a majority of winners, a tricky, overwhelming mess with obvious benefits and a multitude of hidden dangers.

…only after I became a manager did I appreciate the extent to which winners were pursued by both my industry and anyone else who could figure out a way to leech onto them–friends and family included.

This book has several sad stories about these “winners” who found that their piles of money went very quickly and that the world now–even and especially their friends and family–became interested in them only for financial gain.

It really gives credence to the old saying, “Be careful what you ask for because you might just get it.”

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The holidays are upon us, whether we are ready or not. As soon as Halloween ends, we start thinking of Thanksgiving and Christmas and all of the happiness these holidays bring us. However we never think about all of the problems these holidays bring. I really love Thanksgiving, because my mom makes all of the food that she does not make all year long. However getting the food is the problem. The grocery stores—all of them—are a nightmare the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. During this time of the year cheese, sugar and flour become hot items; they are even featured on the cover of the weekly ads in the grocery store. But once you have done all of your grocery shopping, including those last minute items that you always forget to buy, like eggs, you are okay, right? Wrong! Because the granddaddy of them all is on the way—Christmas. Christmas, not only does it monopolize the grocery stores, but all of the other stores as well. Traffic is horrible everywhere and there is never anywhere to park. Christmas is just a shoppers nightmare.

To help deal with the holiday stress, check out these books.

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Aug 1 2012

One, Two, Buckle My(Jimmy)Choo

by Veronica W

With the almost apocalyptic heat we’re experiencing, people are wearing as little as they can get away with and that goes for on their feet as well.  While shopping recently, I saw an entire wall of fancy flip flops.  I am not a big flip flop fan but I admit shoe shopping calls to me. Sometimes I imagine the universal  question is not “Why am I here?” but “Where is the closest DSW?”

I will not claim gender rights to this love of leather, canvas, rubber, plastic and various other “man made uppers.” I’ve known men who have as much passion as women when it comes to their footwear – just witness the almost surreal debacle in stores last year over the newest Air Jordans.  The ensuing fights were equal opportunity lunacy.

From slippers to the most expensive shoes (reportedly the pictured pair of solid gold, high heel sandals, encrusted with 30 carats worth of diamonds, with a price tag of $228, 452), we love our footwear.  Almost as much as buying them, we love to read about them and look at pictures of them. I hear shoe catalogs are grabbed out of the mailbox faster than copies of  Time, People or O.

The library knows what people like to read and can offer more books about shoes than there is room to list them. For example, if you want to know the history of shoes, check out Where Will This Shoe Take You? : A Walk Through the History of Footwear or Hot Shoes: 100 Years of Sneakers from Start to Finish. If you are Imelda Marcos and think some of  those 1,000 plus pairs you have in your closet are becoming outdated, try A Closet Full of Shoes: Simple Ways to Make Them Chic. For some fun fiction, pick up Shoe Addicts Anonymous, which is also being made into a movie with Halle Berry. My personal favorite (title) is Don’t Make Me Choose Between You and My Shoes.

The perceived importance of shoes can differ from country to country, culture to culture. Most of us go shoe shopping with style, color and perhaps price in mind. However in some  countries, where going barefoot is the norm because of poverty, shoes are less about style and more about warmth, protection and possible survival. Organizations such as Shoes for Humanity, Soles4Souls and the Barefoot Kids Foundation collect “gently used” shoes to distribute to those in need.

To interject a touch of whimsy, I ask you,  how would the prince have found Cinderella without the glass slipper? Wouldn’t Dorothy still be languishing in Oz if she hadn’t grabbed those ruby shoes?  Footwear  plays a big role in fairy tales and fantasy, as evidenced by the stories of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Puss in Boots, The Shoemaker and the Elves—as well as the aforementioned Wizard of Oz and Cinderella.

Take a look in your closet. How many pairs of shoes do you have (or will admit to having)? Someone said if you have more than three pairs – one for work, one for play and one for “dress-up” – then you have too many.  What say you? How important—or unimportant—is what you wear on your feet?

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