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Spent: Memoirs of a Shopping Addict Hardcover – May 14, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Cardella, a former model, is a freelance writer in the areas of fashion, photography, and pop culture, but her résumé is rather peripheral to the main thrust of her memoir: her long and debilitating addiction to shopping. This subject has become quite hot lately, with other memoirists confessing their own addictions (not to mention the wildly popular Shopaholic novels by Sophie Kinsella); Cardella’s own story is interesting but ultimately adds little new insight to the subject. It’s the usual story: an addiction to shopping, the relentless acquisition of things she didn’t need (and often never wore or used), was both the result and further cause of problems in her personal life. Cardella openly describes the disastrous effects her addiction had on her life, but readers familiar with the subject may get a general feeling of déjà vu: this is a traumatic story but not a unique one. On the other hand, readers coming to the subject for the first time may be mesmerized by the very idea that you can become addicted to something as seemingly inconsequential as shopping. --David Pitt

Review

"These are the confessions of a real shopaholic, riveting to read and painfully self-aware. Avis Cardella speaks truth to power--the power of delusional thinking that is peculiarly female in nature. As in: Never mind that I'm already 20 grand in Visa debt, I desperately need that Prada suit to make my life-to make ME-perfect. If this sounds scarily familiar, what you need even more desperately is a copy of Spent, right now."―Susan Squire, author of I Don't: A Contrarian History of Marriage

"Cardella, now in her late 40s, has an elegant, serious voice in Spent; a bauble-decked shopaholic straight out of a frothy chick lit novel, she's not. Clothes...are described earnestly, and she casts the fashion industry...in an occasionally deeply unflattering light. But Spent is less an indictment of an industry as a whole and more an examination of Cardella's own vulnerability to its particular pitfalls: insecurities placated by dressing well and buying luxe, as well as an exhausting run with a fast crowd."―Sarah Haight, Women's Wear Daily

"In this intimate and revealing portrait, Avis Cardella unapologetically invites us to bear witness to the devastating effect that her mother's sudden death had on her life, and the ensuing serious shopping addiction that temporarily took away her fragility and numbness and bolstered her shaky sense of self. It came with a very high price, however. Spent is a cautionary tale for the millions of women who try to build a sense of themselves based on fashion or images presented in the media--and don't realize that 'in the process of trying to create a new self, another self that is more central may be annihilated'."―April Lane Benson, Ph.D., author of To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop

"For anyone who has felt the thrill of snapping up a bargain or buying something extravagant, this glimpse of the far side of shopping's emotional kicks can be fascinating."―Malcolm Ritter, San Francisco Chronicle

"bracing... Avis Cardella's "Spent" relates how the author's "compulsive shopping habit" pushed her to the brink of financial and existential bankruptcy. This riveting, painfully candid memoir exposes the dark side of the belief that we are what we wear."―Caroline Weber, The New York Times Sunday Book Review

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (May 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316035602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316035606
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #628,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

After spending her formative years reading fashion magazines voraciously, Avis Cardella found her calling writing about fashion, photography, and culture. She has written for British Vogue, American Photo, and Surface, among other publications. She lives in Paris with her husband.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Richichi on May 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As of recent-when making any purchase, a little voice within asks, "Is this something I want? Or, is this something I need?" I attribute my new found mindfulness to Avis Cardella. I also found her journey compelling because it spoke about an uncomfortable truth so many of us are unwilling to face. How much of our purchases are really important or necessary? The deeper issues are why! Avis Cardella explains her WHY and the resolve it took to face the endless acquiring of things that we call addiction. Addiction comes in a variety of form and Cardella invites the reader along from a perspective that may leave us asking at our next purchase, "Do I really need this want?"

I could not put this book down!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By LJW on June 13, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Beyond the portrayal of an addiction, SPENT brilliantly captures the global shopping fever that swept cities and propelled the luxury industry into high gear. By depicting this story as one woman's battle with shopping, Cardella immerses the reader in a microcosm of guilt-ridden consumerism. Hers is a provocative tale that articulates the emptiness that so many recession-era consumers recently faced at the end of a race caught up in striving for "camera ready" perfection of image, body, home and lifestyle. Through the redemption of this one woman, the book brilliantly illuminates the new realities of a more tempered consumer mindset. Marketers and retailers would do well to understand the rollercoaster ride that many consumers have just come off of. Cardella positions it all with the clarity that only first-hand experience can bring.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kevin W. Scott on February 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I'm looking for anything on this subject matter and liked this book. Also, one of the blogs that has intrigued me is reformedshopaholic.com. If you are interested in the shopping addiction or becoming a reformed shopaholic you probably need to read about many addicts to give you some motivation because it is damn near impossible to get over this addiction, so repetition is good. It's also not as productive to read about someone with a different lifestyle than yourself so you think you are not like them and therefor do not have the same addiction. "Spent" had to do with a person living a somewhat charmed life, which might make her story harder to relate to. It's hard to find a writer on this topic where you can really get inside their head.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. M. Ball on June 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A quick read and reminder for those who spend too much. Avis Cardella is very honest about her spending habits, credit problems and financial troubles that followed. She goes through the stimulus for why her spending addiction started, what happened with the shopping trips, and her relationships- especially with men. Through her memoir she reminds the reader to reflect on why they spend, if they want or need it, and how it will spiral out of control without restraint. It is not a "Shopaholic" series style book- it is much more serious and reflective than these purely fictional works but still well done overall.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By catsunshine on June 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It's great to see shopping addiction addressed in a serious and thoughtful manner. However, I have to admit that it was hard to feel sympathy for the writer because her lowest point didn't bring with it the kind of disasterous financial consequences I've seen others in the same situation encounter. Her life is a charmed one starting with the modeling gigs of her youth (however scant), her tremendous beauty, the access to enviable social circles, ease in forging a career path, a surplus of handsome, wealthy boyfriends, etc. It becomes a memoir that, well, luxuriates in luxury problems. The other problem is the quality of the writing. It's not captivating enough to make us want to slog through every overspending shopping trip.

But (and of course this is one of the book's main themes), a life of privilege-- the house in the Hamptons, the parties, the glowing skin, the eighty Cosabella thongs--happiness does not make, and her honest attempts to portray that deserves mention. And at least she doesn't fabricate situations for dramatic purposes. She simply tells her story, unusual in an age when memoirists all too often present fiction as fact. She also deserves praise for writing about shopping addiction in the first place, especially as the disorder is given little credence as a subject worthy of exploration. Is it because women are primarily the ones afflicted? Except for the occasional feature on Oprah, the culture marginalizes what it deems this and other "women's issues." By the end I did feel more sympathy than I was able to muster at the beginning; I just wish the writing itself had been more compelling. I was left feeling like I'd read a conversational magazine article more interested in presenting information than captivating readers with an original voice.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By N. Taylor on May 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Avis Cardella loves fashion. When she was very young, she fell in love with name brands, beautiful clothes, and magazines. She saw her mother as the epitome of grace and beauty and wanted to be like her. While Avis was in her early twenties and in a tumultuous marriage, her mother died. What follows Avis is her choices in seeking to fill the hole left behind.

This memoir is beautifully and honestly written. She makes no excuses and places no blame on others. She makes choices based on her need to anesthetize her feelings about her loss. She becomes involved with rich, powerful men and enters the world of freelance fashion writing, while climbing the ladder of the rich and famous, spending all she has and then more while she seeks to numb her grief.

The author carefully addresses her different relationships and how they each served a purpose. Her downward spiral takes a couple of decades and her uphill climb is a process.

As our country is pushed into recession, "Spent" is written in a timely manner. Although full of designers the average woman may have heard in passing but would not be able to identify, the reader can identify with loss and searching for healing.

I really enjoyed the book. The author has a unique voice and writes with feeling and reason. She is able to connect her ideas and experiences clearly and finds healing and change within herself. She admits to slipping along the way, but her strength to admit her own choices are to blame is empowering.
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