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Want to get rich? Read fiction -
Nov. 22, 2013 | MarketWatch | By Jeremy Olshan.
Want to get rich? Read fiction. 5 financial lessons from famous novels.

Literature has always been a vessel for nuggets of practical wisdom — Homer’s epics contained a Wikipedia’s worth of ancient schooling, oral poetry being the original textbook. Fiction provides us “equipment for living,” in the words of the theorist Kenneth Burke, an assertion supported by a recent study linking literary reading to greater empathy.

1. Read Defoe to understand money.
2. Read Trollope and Dickens to spot the next Bernie Madoff.
3. Read Eliot and Flaubert before swiping that credit card.
4. Read Dickens to learn the difference between saving and hoarding.
5. Read Tolstoy before heading to the car dealership.

The old poker player’s adage that if, after a few minutes at the table, you can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you, is more or less true in every financial transaction. Whether it’s the purchase of a horse, a car, a stock or a house, there’s a fair chance either the buyer or seller is getting the shorter end of the deal.

This is why it’s essential that before buying — or selling — anything one read “Anna Karenina.” Though the Tolstoy novel is better remembered as, yes, another novel of adultery, it’s also a highly useful manual for negotiating with car salesmen.

Stepan Oblonsky, a Moscow nobleman, visits his friend Konstantin Levin’s country estate, and tells how he sold a parcel of land — a wood — and wants to know whether he got a good deal.

Levin replies with a simple question: “Did you count the trees?”

“How can I count the trees?” Stepan Arkadyich said with a laugh, still wishing to get his friend out of his bad mood. “To count the sands, the planets’ rays, a lofty mind well may...” .....In other words, only a fool buys or sells something without knowing what it’s really worth. It sounds simple, but I’ve been that fool many times. How often do we fail to count the trees? How often do we sit with the car salesman and not know the real value of the car?

So always count the trees. Count them with calculators, with Excel spreadsheets or with iPhone apps, if you must. Or count them in their ideal form, after they’re churned into pulp and bound together as the pages of a good book.
fiction  books  lessons_learned  empathy  wisdom  literature  reading  wealth_creation  personal_enrichment 
november 2013 by jerryking
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