Book Review: The Number (2006)

Releasing Tuesday, Lee Eisenberg’s The Number, combines two relatively hot topics — baby boomers and blogs — in different ways.

Eisenberg’s target audience is the baby boomers who, as Newsweek and innumerable other media outlets have told us, are hitting their 60s. Eisenberg realizes that boomers are starting to think about retirement and The Number “is the amount of money you need to secure the rest of your life.” In other words, funding your retirement. But Eisenberg, a former Esquire magazine editor, takes a different approach. He doesn’t crunch numbers or give extensive financial and investment advice. Instead, reflecting the mindset of many boomers, he wants readers “to think about the rest of your life.” In other words, Eisenberg believes the Number can only be calculated by having an idea of how you want to spend your retirement. Thus, his focus is on “life planning” and “downshifting,” not retirement planning.

Showing his (or someone’s) media-savvy ways, Eisenberg is using the blogosphere as a marketing tool. Through e-mails and the book’s web site, Eisenberg encouraged bloggers to obtain a free advance copy of the book. There was no explicit obligation to review the title in exchange for the copy. Evidently, the marketing strategy had some success because here’s yet another blog review.

Eisenberg does strike a fairly good balance between plain financial and investment advice and touchie feelie thoughts about what we want to be when we grow up. Because Eisenberg’s theme is that you have you think about what you want to do with your life in retirement, the main text never suggests any particular formula for coming up with your Number. There is, however, a calculation tool in the appendix. The main benefit of the book is, however, perhaps giving some people a perspective on retirement that is not strictly financial or motivated by money.

Those who say that this is either (a) the Apocalypse or (b) the Golden Age are both wrong.

Lee Eisenberg, The Number

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