The Bookworm: Two books on gaining independence

Terri Schlichenmeyer

“Splitopia: Dispatches from Today’s Good Divorce and How To Part Well”

By Wendy Paris

c.2016, Atria

$16/$22 Canada; 336 pages

“Splitopia: Dispatches from Today’s Good Divorce and How To Part Well” by Wendy Paris.

You two have been fighting a lot lately. There’s a lot of he said/she said going on. Blaming. Anger, too, and there’s simply no way you can go on like this: you may be heading for divorce court. You don’t even remember how this started, but with “Splitopia” by Wendy Paris, you can try to ensure that it ends well.

Wendy Paris’s friends were worried. Paris says she’d been unhappily married “for years,” but when she finally announced that she and her husband were splitting, she “got pushback.” Friends asked if she was sure she wanted to proceed with divorce, citing statistics about finances, possible future misery, and her son’s well-being.

More:The Bookworm: Dealing with dealing; rags to riches

The truth is, divorce is nothing like it was 35 years ago, and stats from then are vastly different than those of today. Doctors now know that staying in a bad marriage can actually be detrimental to one’s health. No-fault divorce has “saved lives” and, as Paris learned to her surprise, it’s even possible to have a good divorce.

The first thing to remember, she says, is that divorce is “a transition, not a permanent state.” You may struggle with various things, but struggling won’t last. Also, forget about comparisons; just as every marriage is unique, so is every divorce.

If there are children in the mix, “we can let divorce challenge us to be better parents.” Work with your ex-spouse to ensure stability and a schedule that can be kept. Know honestly where parenting is on your list of priorities, even though it may be shocking. Learn to manage your feelings “while still protecting your children.”

Memorize the “Seven Principles of Parting,” and repeat daily. Cut your parents some slack when you announce your divorce, and know how to deal with any friends who suddenly disappear. Think hard about what kind of divorce you want; you may even be able to DIY. Finally, learn to be alone and like it, and embrace your new independence. You deserve that, don’t you?

For sure, “Splitopia” is absolutely crammed with good points, decent advice, and enough of author Wendy Paris’s personal life to keep the book moving. It’s entertaining, while also being useful. But will it help? That will depend on the reader and the divorce.

Again, each divorce is different, but much of what’s here might be summed up in two words: Nice. Try. A lot to try, too; in fact, “Splitopia” could eventually seem like an exhausting attempt to touch upon everything that could possibly happen. Throughout, Paris advocates an openly honest split, of course, but her own story belies the breeziness of that advice and adds dubiousness to the meat of the book. Lastly, it’s assumed that everyone can remain level-headed and that money isn’t scarce.

And yet, that shouldn’t turn soon-to-be-exes away; the info here may be worth an attempt, at least at first. Patient, cautious readers may be delighted to know that this book, now in paperback, is useful ... or they may start “Splitopia” and fight to get through it.

“Rich20Something: Ditch Your Average Job, Start an Epic Business, and Score the Life You Want”

By Daniel DiPiazza

c. 2017, Tarcher Perigee

$24/$32 Canada; 281 pages

“Rich20Something: Ditch Your Average Job, Start an Epic Business, and Score the Life You Want” by Daniel DiPiazza

Your paycheck was a lot smaller than you thought it would be. How irritating: after taxes and other deductions, you’re making a pittance for your work. How unfair: this isn’t the way it was when your parents started out! But then again, as you’ll see in “Rich20Something” by Daniel DiPiazza, neither is business.

On a “nothing special” day, after he endured his daily on-the-job “nit-picking,” Daniel DiPiazza asked himself a question you may want to ask, too: “Why are you wasting your potential at this job that means nothing to you … ?”

Nobody wants an “average job,” so why stay at yours? Instead, begin by embracing “Three New Truths”: dues are no longer required (with a laptop and Internet connection, you can make money now); you can operate by your own rules in this business game (innovation and risk-taking are encouraged, college may be unnecessary) and “money is easy” (but making your ideas happen is not). Take these truths as inspiration, and be willing to “blaze a new [path]” for yourself.

To do that, learn how to focus on what’s important. So many times, DiPiazza says, entrepreneurs think they’re accomplishing a lot, when they’re only wasting hours on tasks that they’re not ready to tackle or that aren’t yet necessary. Know how to prioritize “ruthlessly,” and ride your “motivation wave.”

Understand that there may never be a totally perfect time to go it on your own; in other words, don’t give up your day job too quickly. Freelancing is always a good way to make a secondary stream of income; it also helps determine the value of an idea. Don’t be afraid of competition: if somebody’s making money at something, there’s room for you to do it, too. Define your current job skills and “leverage” them. And finally, build a network wherever you go. Become the “hub” for your contacts, be interesting, and be interested. That’s irresistible.

There’s a lot to like inside “Rich20Something” – and a lot to beware.

For sure, readers can find motivation to get started on making money through freelancing or entrepreneurship; author Daniel DiPiazza, founder/CEO of Rich20something.com, is nothing, if not enthusiastic. His observations are filled with truth, nuggets to provoke, and inspirational tales from other self-starters.

The “beware” comes from a lack of caution here: DiPiazza treats freelancing as a panacea to being broke, barely mentioning that it can be a long row to hoe; and while his ideas for 24/7 internet businesses are valid, they’re not nearly as easy as this book makes them seem. There are a lot of lines to draw here, too, and a few gaps in help; the excitement and zeal that shine forth from this book could mitigate that absence for the right business-minded millennials but it could be a prickly problem for others.

Not just for job-newbies, this is a good book, but go into it with eyes and mind open. Some readers may be frustrated by it, while for others, “Rich20Something” will be better than you thought it would be.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.