Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Book Review - House Lust: America's Obsession With Our Homes by Daniel McGinn

Title: House Lust: America's Obsession With Our Homes
Author: Daniel McGinnx  
Year: 2008 
Page: 272 
Genre: Non-Fiction

New to me author? Yes 
Read this author again? Maybe 
Tearjerker? No 
Where did it take place? US
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from
Despite the current downturn in the housing market, the country's mania for homes that exploded during the last half-decade is still alive and well, according to Newsweek writer McGinn. The fascination with homes—talking about, valuing, scheming over, envying, shopping for, refinancing, or just plain ogling homes—has continued even after the market has cooled, McGinn argues, and can be seen in the ongoing popularity of HGTV, the 24-7 real estate and home improvement cable channel and its flagship show, House Hunters. To prove his thesis, McGinn entertainingly explores the gamut of housing obsessions, from buying personally designed and oversized trophy homes, attempting large-scale renovations and spending obscene amounts of time on real estate Web sites such as Zillow and PropertyShark to actually going out and getting a real estate license, which McGinn himself does after only minimal training. It is this ability to get inside the actual lives of the housing-obsessed rather that relying purely on statistics to prove his point that makes this book as enjoyable as an episode of Flip This House, another popular housing reality show that McGinn cites in a book that is, at heart, all about behavior, not economics.

First Sentence:
Rachel Brownell is a financial analyst with three kids, but every so often she and some friends get together for a girls' night out.
Why did I pick this book?
I am interested in houses and watching shows on HGTV. I need to finish painting the houses and unpacking the boxes (we only moved in 3 years ago you know...) so thought I'd read this to motivate myself to work on house stuff. I found this while browsing at the library.

My thoughts:
  • Well, I didn't finish the book. It wasn't bad, but it was just a bit... flat. The writing just didn't grip me.
  • The author interviewed a lot of different families on different topics about home ownership, but some stories got repetitive... or sometimes, the author would start with 1 family, then went on to state other facts from research or insert his own opinion, then went back with that family... so the flow was a bit disjoint. 
  • I think if I had nothing else to read in the house, I'd finish it. Nevertheless, there are too many other books I want to read more, so I decide to drop this one. When the mood strike again then maybe I'd borrow it again. 
  • If anyone is interested in reading a memoir on remodeling an old house (which is a totally different book from this one as House Lust is NOT a memoir) - try All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House by David Giffels. It was a fun read, and I was amazed with what they had done! I love old houses (1920's or older), but we are so not handy that I don't feel comfortable buying something we have to restore or fix... our house is over 40 years old but still in good shape luckily... but definitely doesn't have the same characters as the older homes!

    Rating: 0 Stars - Did Not Finish

    Have you read this book? 
    If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!


    1. No but it sounds interesting. I love homes. But I'm one of those odd ducks that would rather a small cabin in the woods with lots of land over a big house.

    2. @Juju - Oh I'd love to have a cabin in the woods / by the lake or ocean, than have a McMansion! Bigger house = more housework :p I think we'll shoot for that in our next house (hopefully our forever house, right now we're in our first house) as I hate moving / packing / unpacking! That's why we're still living out of boxes after 3 years...