Book Giveaway: Shiny Objects

Shiny Objects book on Happy Simple Living

Just in time for the holidays, we’re giving away a copy of James A. Roberts’ insightful new book Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy, just published by HarperOne. Presenting a compelling case against materialism, Roberts illustrates with both historical data and the latest research how chasingΒ  The American Dream has put too many people on what he calls “the treadmill of consumption.”Β  From a global viewpoint, Roberts’ findings support what many already sense, that striving for bigger, better and more has contributed to our current state of economic uncertainty.

For anyone who has ever dreamed of winning the lottery, the research findings comparing lottery winners’ happiness ratings versus average consumers and those of accident victims are fascinating and eye-opening. In fact, as much as Madison Avenue tries to convince us otherwise, Roberts’ research shows that people with a stronger focus on material aspirations consistently feel lower levels of psychological well-being.

One chapter that didn’t ring quite true for me was “Heaven Help Us: The Prosperity Gospel,” which seemed to be trying to make the case that the majority of large churches try to persuade believers to donate money by dangling the promise of increased personal riches. Every religion has its bad apples, of course, but for most people I know the concept of sowing and reaping isn’t about giving to get more, it’s about giving so we all have enough. One of the best aspects of reduced spending and consumption, in my humble opinion, is the opportunity to share more with charitable organizations and those in need. Near the end of the book in a chapter entitled “Your Money or Your Life,” Roberts, too, acknowledges our deep-seated desire to live a life of meaning and examines how, as a society, we have gotten so far away from that basic need in our passion to accumulate material possessions.

My favorite section, not surprisingly, is the practical, “how-to” chapter, “Step Away From the Shopping Cart,” with Roberts’ “25 Tweaks to Financial Tranquility.” Ahhh, don’t you just love the sound of that? I can take a deep breath and feel more peaceful just thinking about financial tranquility. Here the author presents specific ideas to curb in spending, from “just say no to the mall” to giving yourself 24 hours to cool off and carefully consider before making a purchase over $100.

To win a brand-new copy of this thought-provoking book, leave a comment below about how you’re simplifying the holidays this year. The giveaway ends on Sunday, November 27 at midnight MST. I’ll draw one random name from all the comments and announce the winner on Monday, November 28. Good luck, and I can’t wait to hear your comments.


The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Book Giveaway: Shiny Objects

  • Richard Brownx

    Perfect gift for my mom πŸ™‚

    Would love to have it.

  • Chessa

    This is perfect as a gift to my bestfriend because she also love books…Thanks for the idea..

  • Giselle

    This is really in time for Holidays and I think this is fantastic!!

  • patsy

    Hi, am planning to give copies of this book to
    a niece, a nephew, a brother and me for a really
    worthwhile Christmas present.
    Thanks for your lovely opportunity.

  • Beth

    Giving gifts if time, experiences etc instead of “things” in many, but not all cases. And, potluck meals with family rather than one person/family to do it all. See, there went my shoulders. They are coming down!!!

  • Jessica Kimber

    Coming from a huge and constantly growing family we agreed to not go crazy, spending way to much, on gifts for eachother and instead not buy anyone anything! But rather regift a gift, make something or give something meaningful such as a favorite book, recipe or writing a poem or story. We’ve decided to put more of an emphasis on embracing quality time with family vs. unnecessary consumerism. We will see how it goes! Looking forward to it!!

  • Laura

    Life is not about the latest gift but rather the qualify time spent with family. This year we are opting to share experiences with one another by taking adventures like a horse-back riding trip or a cruise in the San Francisco Bay or even simple time spent making a nice dinner. Maybe this will become our new family tradition! πŸ™‚ BTW – enjoyed the interview on NPR!

  • Vicki

    We are going to have a “family meeting” with our kids, ages 21, 19, and 16 and discuss as a family the need to scale back our gifts this year, the “stuff” we exchange, and ways that we can make this Christmas more about spending time with each other and less about spending money that we cannot afford to on things that are not necessities. It is hard for me to remember from year to year what “stuff” I gave and what I received. However, I remember the time spent laughing and hugging and sharing a delicious meal around the family table. Merry Christmas!

  • I like the idea of a “cooling off period” before making a large purchase – common sense tips like that are very helpful to me.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  • Jessica

    I am simplifying my holiday by cutting my gift list down and opting for homemade, food, experience and upcycled gifts. Spending more time at home means less running around, spending money, and stressing out. See my blog at for more details.

  • Sue

    For the second year in a row, I will be sewing gifts for the Grandchildren and Granddog. I find this to be very satisfying for me and a great confidence builder. The Grandkids love the items they have received.
    I cannot wait to read the book, it should be very interesting.

  • Patricia

    We are simplifying our holidays by only buying gifts for our two young children. We are making gifts for other people and incorporating it into a fun family project. We are also staying home for the holidays.

  • Jennifer

    I heard Mr.Roberts on NPR yesterday and loved the title of his book – spot on! I can only imagine all the goodies inside. πŸ™‚

  • Sarah R

    I’m going to smile and look strangers in the eye as my gift to them and myself. Plus I’ll be doing my yoga every morning and giving this book as a gift to many people.

  • Ces

    I love the content of your post here and I am hoping that I can share this to my friends too…

  • We’ve simplified our holiday meals – no need to make 3 or 4 different desserts or 10 kinds of vegetables! We’ll still have all those things this season, just not all on the same day. And I won’t shop on Black Friday – instead, I’m staying home and stringing beads! Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this book – it really represents what I’m striving toward.

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  • Kerry

    This year we will not be attending any Black Friday sales in a conscience effort to enjoy an “old fashion holiday season” focused on family, food, and togetherness. We will be entertaining ourselves with games and stories and even having a no iphone dinner.

  • Jay Manning

    Enough with the stuff! The Latin word for “baggage” is “impedimenta”. Instead of trading things this year, we will do something together as a family, either at home or a short distance away.

  • Gail Honea

    I am known as a great gift wrapper, but I have not bought paper for years. I am using up my paper stash and using things like my fabric scraps and trying other creative ideas. Saving money and helping the environment

  • Anson Roberts

    My wife and I are seeking to move from the seduction of consumerism to simplicity and radical giving. As part of our faith community we are making creative gifts for friends and family and taking the money we would have spent on gifts and giving it to an organization that builds water wells for people that don’t have clean drinking water.

  • Jonathan

    We are simplifying our holiday by not driving anywhere. Instead, people are coming to our place. πŸ™‚

    I am also going to purchase just one item on Friday. A table saw that is 40% off. I am in need of one greatly.

  • […] We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy. I recently reviewed his book for Happy Simple Living, and if you visit the site you can enter the giveaway to win a new hardcover edition of this […]

  • Kristin

    Your synopsis of this book sounds exactly like what my husband and I are striving for. Freedom from our stuff. It sounds like and interesting read. Best, Kristin

  • Anna Pry

    well, i haven’t bought anything for Christmas so far so I’m doing good

  • eliza_cross

    Thanks to all of you for these inspiring holiday ideas! xoxo

  • Sounds like a really interesting book. Thanks for posting this!

  • Lynda

    Rather than buying gifts for each individual in the family we are buying one unique and thoughtful gift within a specific budget and drawing numbers to play a gift choosing and stealing game (like white elephant but with nice gifts). This way we all can stay within a budget and don’t feel obligated to spend too much on each person. It also makes gift giving less about the gifts and more about the company and making memories.

  • Our extended families don’t exchange gifts, so we have a very short gift list. Those gifts have already been purchased and were purchased online so that I don’t have to brave the crowds in brick and mortar stores.

    A couple of casual gatherings have been planned, and that’s all that I will be planning. We’ve had a very hectic year and I’m more than happy to let everything else just happen as it will…whether it’s putting up the tree, baking cookies or attending parties. If some (or all) of those things go undone, that’s ok, too. I just want to sit back, relax and enjoy some quiet time with my family this year.

  • Amy

    I’ve simplified and focused on getting stuff done early. With friends, we do a cookie exchange and secret santa instead of all doing gifts. We focus on the time together rather than what we get. Also, online shopping to minimize the frustrations.

  • Carla

    I’ve cut my Christmas shopping WAY down! Bringing the Christ back to Christmas as much as possible! πŸ™‚

  • Carol Wong

    Our family budget is very limited. So, earn points on survey sites and get gift cards that I can buy gifts with. When the balance is used up, I stop. I have fun on line picking out little things that our family can enjoy.


  • Grace from NZ

    This year for the first time my family and I are going to forgo the whole roast turkey with all the trimmings Christmas dinner, and instead share a kiwi (as in typically NZ, not the bird!) barbeque by the beach, followed by an afternoon nature walk. More time together, less time slaving in the kitchen on a beautiful summer day!

  • CJ Holloway

    Instead of exchanging gifts with a friend, get together and hand make holiday cards or bake cookies together. A friend and I have done this for over 20 years and it has become a tradition my children have come to love. We have had more laughs and frosting disasters to stow away in our hearts for years to come. Make your Christmas about doing not buying!

  • Anna-Marie from South Africa

    My main way of simplifying this year was starting months earlier. I bought Christmas cards from last year’s after Christmas sales. I bought gifts on sales since September. I am reusing Christmas tree decorations in stead of buying new ones. I have already simplified the meals a few years ago.

  • To bring more peace to my holidays, I am going to stay with my normal routines that keep me intentional and feeling good. This includes a daily practice of meditation, yoga, and gratitudes. Thanks of the great reminder and the generous book give away!

  • Janis

    I will not drive myself crazy searching for the perfect gift. All of the 20-somethings and teens on my list will get money. That’s what they want anyway. Adults will no longer be on the list this year other than a plate of homemade fudge for each household. I’m breathing easier already.

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