Book Review: Spent: Memoirs of a Shopping Addict

By Xin Lu. Last updated 29 April 2010. 0 comments

Avis Cardella is a former model and a freelance fashion writer who had a serious shopping addiction. In Spent: Memoirs of Shopping Addict (affiliate link), she writes about her struggles with acquiring more and more stuff without fulfillment for two decades. This is the painful story of a true shopaholic.

This book will probably be fairly revolting to a frugal person, and I really felt like I was rubbernecking at a trainwreck as I read about how the author spent more than she earned for decades and bought things that she did not even use. To her detriment, various wealthy men in her life also enabled her addiction and cultivated her expensive tastes. Some portions of the book really made me want to go up to this woman and shake a little sense into her, but I thought that she was also quite brave to write such a deeply personal memoir and air out so much of her dirty laundry.

To be honest, I could not relate to this book at all because I am not into shopping, but I think it may be a great book for those who want to understand how debilitating oniomania, or shopping addiction, could be. Ms. Cardella writes in detail about how "trance-like" shopping gave her happiness temporarily and then fill her with disgust and guilt. She repeats this ritual ad nauseum and it is true insanity.

In addition to the personal story, Ms. Cardella also gives some good background history on the rise of the "mall culture" in America. Since she worked in the fashion industry she also has some good insights into how advertising makes people want things they do not necessarily need.

I found the book to be quite serious and heavy, and it made me realize that an activity as innocent as shopping can evolve into a disease. Ultimately the author realized that acquiring more stuff was not fulfilling her emotionally and made drastic changes in her life. I would have liked to read more about her recovery process, and I sincerely hope that she is doing well.

Do you know anyone with a serious shopping addiction?

Disclosure: I received a free advanced copy of this book.

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