Book Notes

Each year hundreds, if not thousands, of books are published containing advice and in-depth examinations of homebuyer issues. Consumer Action highlights the best of these resources the Book Notes section. The Editor welcomes your feedback and suggestions. Click here to e-mail the editor.

Terms of Disservice

Terms of Disservice Cover Art

Hardly a day goes by without new headlines about the dark side of digital technology. Many of those headlines concern the role of social media companies in distributing false and misleading information that inflames social and political divides and even helps sway elections. Facebook, Google, and Twitter, once seen as… More About: Terms of Disservice

Land of the Fee

Land of the Fee Cover Art

In "Land of the Fee: Hidden Costs and the Decline of the American Middle Class", Devin Fergus offers a compelling explanation for the mounting problem of wealth inequality: the explosion of fees accompanying virtually every transaction that people make.

These perfectly legal fees are buried deep within… More About: Land of the Fee

Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America

Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America Cover Art

Alissa Quart, executive editor of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, examines the lives of many middle-class Americans who can now barely afford to raise children.

Through firsthand storytelling, Quart explores how our country has failed its families. Her subjects—from professors to lawyers to caregivers to nurses—have been wrung out by… More About: Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America

The Color of Law

The Color of Law Cover Art

The Color of Law describes how segregation in America—which continues to impact major cities and contribute to social strife—is the byproduct of government housing policies at the local, state and federal levels.

As a former columnist for the New York Times, research associate at the Economic Policy Institute and fellow at… More About: The Color of Law

Weapons of Math Destruction

Weapons of Math Destruction Cover Art

In Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, a former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life. This is about the "dark side" of Big Data.

This is the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that… More About: Weapons of Math Destruction

Chain of Title

Chain of Title Cover Art

"Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street's Great Foreclosure Fraud" reveals the story of the enormous foreclosure fraud that caused millions of families to lose their homes based on false evidence by mortgage companies. The lenders had no legal right to foreclose—they messed up the chain of title to… More About: Chain of Title

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City Cover Art

"Evicted" is an eye-opening trip to the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee via the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed… More About: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Navigating Life's Transitions

Navigating Life's Transitions Cover Art

To be prosperous, one needs a deep understanding of who and what you are and what you want out of life. Getting there can be hard work but this book makes the chore easier. With prompts on how to reach financial decisions and plan for short- and long-term goals,… More About: Navigating Life's Transitions

Other People's Houses

Other People's Houses Cover Art

In the wake of the financial meltdown in 2008, many claimed that it had been inevitable, that no one saw it coming and that subprime borrowers were to blame. This book is a response to such unfounded claims by Jennifer Taub, an associate professor at Vermont Law School. Drawing… More About: Other People's Houses

House of Debt

House of Debt Cover Art

The Great American Recession resulted in the loss of eight million jobs between 2007 and 2009. More than four million homes were lost to foreclosures. Is it a coincidence that the United States witnessed a dramatic rise in household debt in the years before the recession—that the total amount… More About: House of Debt

Worth It ... Not Worth It?

Worth It ... Not Worth It? Cover Art

Worth It ... Not Worth It? Simple & Profitable Answers to Life’s Tough Financial Questions aims to demystify complex, real-world dilemmas and break down the answers into simple, Do This/Not That solutions. Organized around six basic topics-Getting Started, Shelter, Automotive, Investing, Family Matters, and Retirement-this handy book is the Swiss… More About: Worth It ... Not Worth It?

Living Large in Lean Times

Living Large in Lean Times Cover Art

"Living Large in Lean Times" is consumer advocate Clark Howard's comprehensive guide to saving money, covering cell phones to student loans, coupon websites to mortgages, investing to electric bills and more. Howard, Atlanta-based host of a talk radio and TV show and founder of the website, has lots… More About: Living Large in Lean Times


Scammed Cover ArtOnce upon a time store prices were simple and fair, businesses stood behind their products with guarantees free of fine print and loopholes, and companies genuinely seemed to care about their valued customers—but those days are long gone. In his new exposé, consumer advocate Christopher Elliot details the broken relationship… More About: Scammed

Your Money: The Missing Manual

Your Money: The Missing Manual Cover Art

J.D. Roth is the creator of the popular personal-finance advice blog that opines on personal finance topics far and wide. The topics covered include advice on making sensible decisions on saving, spending, and investing, the best ways to set and achieve financial goals, setting up a realistic budget… More About: Your Money: The Missing Manual

The Monster

The Monster Cover Art

The Monster: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America—and Spawned a Global Crisis tells the story of the rise and fall of subprime lending by chronicling the rise and fall of two corporate empires: Ameriquest and Lehman Brothers. It is a true-crime exposé of… More About: The Monster

Avoiding the CON in Construction

Avoiding the CON in Construction Cover Art

Renovating a home is an expensive undertaking even when things go right. When things go wrong, unexpected costs and delays can be financially devastating. This book can help you make informed contracting decisions.

Kia Ricchi, a Florida-based contractor, says there are steps homeowners can take to ensure a… More About: Avoiding the CON in Construction

Get a Financial Life

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Get a Financial Life is a real-world guide for "millennials" that teaches young people tricks for becoming the masters of their financial universes.

Get a Financial Life focuses on what you need to know when you're just starting to pay serious attention to money matters. Whether you earn $20,000 or… More About: Get a Financial Life


Busted Cover Art

"Busted: Life Inside the Great Mortgage Meltdown" is a personal and journalistic look at the free-wheeling lending that led to our nation's housing crisis. A veteran New York Times economics reporter, Edmund L. Andrews was intimately aware of the dangers posed by easy mortgages from fast-buck lenders. But, eager… More About: Busted

You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man

You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man Cover Art

Since the Bernard Madoff "Ponzi scheme" scandal broke, shocking investors and the Wall Street community, this insider's guide to investment rip-offs, scams and con artists has been in demand. The book, published in the late '90s, is designed to educate consumers and make them aware of how scams work.

… More About: You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man


Ponzi Cover Art

Who was Ponzi, the man whose name is synonymous with the classic “rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul” scam where money from new investors goes to reward earlier ones? (It's the kind of scheme that Bernard Madoff recently used to rake in $50 billion from gullible folks all over the world.) In December 1919,… More About: Ponzi

The New Deal

The New Deal Cover Art

2008 marks the 75th anniversary of the New Deal, the series of programs initiated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to help Americans recover during the Great Depression (1933-43). Programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Civil Works Administration, and the Works Progress Administration gave hope, support, and encouragement… More About: The New Deal

Stop Debt Collectors

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Record numbers of people are falling behind on their financial obligations and their debts are being sent to collections. If you're one of them, you know that being contacted by debt collectors can be stressful, especially if they are harassing you, threatening you, and/or using abusive language.

The… More About: Stop Debt Collectors

Wall Street Versus America

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Gary Weiss, a business reporter, looks of what really happens in every corner of the financial system: from Internet tip sites and boiler rooms, to fee-happy mutual funds and hedge funds, to the bluest of blue-chip securities firms. With anecdotes and character studies, Wall Street Versus America tells how… More About: Wall Street Versus America

Investing 101

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People wanting basic advice about stocks, bonds, mutual funds, retirement planning, and tax strategies may find that picking a good book seems as daunting as deciding what to do with their savings and investments. Investing 101: Updated and Expanded can help you get on a path that you can… More About: Investing 101

The Insurance Maze

The Insurance Maze Cover Art

Without proper insurance - health, auto, homeowners, life, disability, or long-term care - an unexpected event can quickly derail your financial plans and put your life savings at risk. Insurance is an essential part of financial planning, but many people are paying hundreds - sometimes thousands - of dollars… More About: The Insurance Maze

Home Rich

Home Rich Cover Art

Your home is the single most valuable thing you can own, yet making it pay can intimidate and confuse even the savviest investor. Finance expert Gerri Willis leads you step-by-step through the entire experience of buying, maintaining, and selling a home, and shows you how to come out ahead–maybe… More About: Home Rich

The Common Cents Money Management Workbook

The Common Cents Money Management Workbook Cover Art

In an age of information overload, many simply don't have the time, knowledge or organizational skills to create a simple, functional system for managing personal finances.

Now in its fifth edition, "The Budget Kit: The Common Cents Money Management Workbook "is a best-seller that has helped hundreds of… More About: The Common Cents Money Management Workbook

10 Excellent Reasons Not to Hate Taxes

10 Excellent Reasons Not to Hate Taxes Cover Art

"Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society."—Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

This short, snappy handbook countersthe anti-tax, anti-government rhetoric that permeates our culture and reminds us why taxes lie at the heart of a functioning democracy.

Paying taxes is something almost everyone loves… More About: 10 Excellent Reasons Not to Hate Taxes

House Lust

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Blending social commentary with reporting, House Lust is a funny and disturbing portrait of the behaviors that drove the greatest real estate boom in history—and its eventual bust.

Owning a home has long been considered the fulfillment of the American Dream. But in the last decade, as the… More About: House Lust

The Complete Guide to Reverse Mortgages

The Complete Guide to Reverse Mortgages Cover Art

Until recently, there were only two main ways you could get cash from your home: sell it or borrow against it and make monthly loan repayments. Reverse mortgages offer a third way of getting money from your home. If you are a homeowner, age 62 and older, you are… More About: The Complete Guide to Reverse Mortgages

Solve Your Money Troubles

Solve Your Money Troubles Cover Art

Everything you need to get out of debt and repair your credit, from the Nolo Press, the pre-eminient self-help legal publisher.

Feeling overwhelmed by your debts? If you're ready to regain your financial freedom, this book is exactly what you need! To make the process easier, Solve Your… More About: Solve Your Money Troubles

Guide to Happy Home Buying

Guide to Happy Home Buying Cover Art

Actor, stand-up comic and host of the popular TV show "House Hunters," Suzanne Whang's "Guide to Happy Home Buying" is a fun way to learn about the home buying process. The book, written with humor, covers all the important steps and serves them up with Top 10 lists to… More About: Guide to Happy Home Buying

The Reverse Mortgage Advantage

The Reverse Mortgage Advantage Cover Art

Consumer Action advises consumers to go slowly when considering reverse mortgages, as there are some bad deals out there. But we recognize that reverse mortgages are helpful for many house-rich, cash-poor seniors. People who do not have heirs and therefore do not have to consider the issues of leaving… More About: The Reverse Mortgage Advantage

Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise

Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise Cover Art

Is a neighboring business driving you crazy? Too much noise from next door? Run-off from up the hill threatening to drown your yard?

Learn your rights and responsibilities with Neighbor Law, Nolo's clear-cut, comprehensive guide to the laws concerning common neighbor disputes. The popular bestseller covers fences, trees, boundaries, blocked… More About: Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise

The New Complete Book of Home Buying

The New Complete Book of Home Buying Cover ArtThe New Complete Book of Home Buying can help you find the best houses and avoid the lemons in today'schanging housing market. Information is offered on how to use the Internet effectively, whether to buy a new or existing home and what to watch for in an older home. The… More About: The New Complete Book of Home Buying

How to Buy a Home

How to Buy a Home Cover Art

It's hard to think about buying a home, especially if you are a newcomer who lacks the knowledge of the U.S. housing market or the language skills to handle negotiations. Where do you begin? How do you know if you're ready? What forms must you fill out? How can… More About: How to Buy a Home

Scam-Proof Your Life

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Get inside information on how to protect your money, your rights and your health with this complete and practical collection of consumer tips by Sid Kirchheimer, AARP scam specialist.

More than 100 experts reveal specific tips, techniques, and tactics that anyone can use to avoid being victimized financially, physically, or… More About: Scam-Proof Your Life

House Poor

House Poor Cover Art

Skyrocketing home values, cheap money and enticing home equity offers have had Americans in thrall. In recent years millions of people took on bigger mortgages, bigger houses and bigger debt. "House Poor: Pumped Up Prices, Rising Rates and Mortgages on Steroids: How to Survive the Coming Housing Crisis," points to… More About: House Poor

Credit Scores & Credit Reports

Credit Scores & Credit Reports Cover Art

The U.S. credit reporting system keeps detailed financial histories on more than 200 million Americans. Evan Hendricks' Credit Scores & Credit Reports is a well-informed, informative, and well-written guide to a subject of great and growing importance to consumers. Hendricks, a foremost privacy expert, examines in detail the credit… More About: Credit Scores & Credit Reports


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