Book Review: “The Successful Retirement Guide”

: “The Successful Retirement Guide: Hundreds of Suggestions on How to Stay Intellectually, Socially and Physically Engaged for the Best Years of Your Life,” Kevin R. Price, Rainbow Books, Inc. 2009

Reviewed by Frederick C. Rieck, attorney

This book was not a happy choice. In retrospect, it is clear that the title should have warned me off-as with menus, where an exhaustive list of items probably means that they are equally poor. Books that give hundreds of suggestions do not always give so much as one of any real value.

The book consists of an alphabetical list of activities that, if embarked on, would result in one being engaged as advertized. It does tread along from Acting to Zen, but it’s hard to imagine that anyone would be intellectually unengaged enough to be willing to plod through it. It does serve to list things that one might do if confronted with the question “what should I do for a hobby?”

Each activity gets a few paragraphs starting with the author’s rating of the opportunities it provides for intellectual, social and physical engagement. For example, acting provides intellectual and social opportunities. Beekeeping provides intellectual and physical stimulation. I suppose the author recognizes that the company of bees is not likely to make the retiree more welcome in society. But is it really physically demanding? I suppose there are opportunities for running ahead of a swarm. Is acting really not physically demanding. A host of behind-the-scenes films says otherwise.

We are then treated to a description of the prospective hobby (a term by the way that Mr. Price seems to eschew, it may be that it strikes the ear as rather old-fashioned; but hobbies are clearly what we are really talking about) and a brief history. If we decide to take up bartending, we learn that Antoine Peychaud, a New Orleans druggist served his Sazerac in a French egg cup called a coquetier , which devolved into cocktail. Frankly bartending sounds like a somewhat dangerous hobby.

I suspect that there are far more opportunities for pursuing the hobby at home than there are for the professional engagements Mr. Price envisions. Still, it is a novel excuse for the more-than-social drinker who has to put up with well-meaning Samaritans staging unwelcome interventions.

Each activity also has a listing of resources for getting started. These at least are theoretically useful and my save one a couple of steps on a search engine. But it would be more useful to know if Mr. Price really explored all of the cited resources and is vouching for them.

Still, it is to the book’s credit that it is not yet another investment guide. In fact, Financial Planning/Investing gets the same treatment accorded Fencing. It is but another way to divert oneself in pursuit of the elusive engagement. Mr. Price is a retired lawyer from the financial services industry and that ain’t hay, so one assumes that Mr. Price can afford to treat planning for his future ways and means as simply another way to pass the time.

Mr. Price should also be commended for his fair and balanced approach. If one is not inclined to take up Gun Collecting, there is always the tried and true pastime of Gun Control. Evidently not a favorite hobby among congress persons and they won’t be nearly as good at it after they retire.

Altogether probably not entitled to a permanent place on the bookshelf.

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