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Business / Personal Finance

  • Idea/Concept: Steven Arnott's The Snowman's Guide to Personal Finances explains the basics of investing and preparing for retirement for Canadians through the use of analogies. The key analogy is that investment and planning for retirement is like building a snowman, which might actually be a tricky comparison for some readers, as investments and retirement should be enduring while snowmen don't survive into spring.

    Prose: Arnott's central analogy might have that conceptual flaw, but readers likely will still find it helpful, as Arnott mostly uses it to illustrate processes. His prose is clear and persuasive in these passages, and the book does an excellent job of both illuminating why the steps are necessary and how to take them. The introduction features the book's least confident, hardest-to-follow prose; those passages do not predict the assured work to follow and may dissuade some readers from giving the book a chance.

    Originality: The analogies are fresh, and even the most familiar advice is delivered here with clarity and conviction.

    Execution: Arnott's book is clear, concise, approachable, and precisely as detailed as it needs to be when considering TFSAs, RRSPs, and RRIFs. The author's emphasis is on the how and why of investing -- how to do it, and why you should. He just as capably explains tax law as he does address the psychological barriers many readers might have toward taking control of their financial futures. Helpful tables and summaries make it impossible to miss the key takeaways.

    Blurb: With uncommon clarity and much practical know-how, The Snowman's Guide to Personal Finance lays out how and why Canadians can take control of their investments and their futures.


  • Plot: The book walks the readers (presumably, retail business owners) through a series of strategies and tactics designed to steer them towards success. It delivers an outline that readers can continually revisit, and encourages engagement through a series of self-assessment worksheets.

    Prose: Delaney conveys her information in a conversational but authoritative voice that comes off in a positive, friendly, and upbeat manner. There is room for improvement: the writing often veers into tangential directions that do not add value to the overall message, creating unnecessary wordiness and distracting readers.

    Originality: The book covers a topic seldom discussed in today's digitally forward business philosophies: the brick and mortar retail operations. It provides an original, refreshing, and crisp point of view that revisits age-old advice with an update to fit today's modern needs.

    Character/Execution: The book gives readers insights into the author's rationale and opinions on how to successfully run a retail business. However, other than writing with a commanding tone, Delaney fails to establish her credentials, explain what makes her an industry expert, or give readers a compelling reason why they should take her advice.