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101 Things to Buy Before You Die Paperback – February 16, 2009
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"A brilliant idea to fuel the desires of shopping fantasists." -- Vogue, September 2006
"A definitive list of what you can't afford to live without." -- Elle, December 2006
"A witty whirlwind guide to some of the best purchases on the planet." -- The San Diego Union Tribune, November 2006
"An indispensable guide for serious shoppers who want to know what to invest in and where to find it." -- WM, December 2007
"For us nonrich civilians who refuse to spend our hard-earned dollars on anything less than the best." -- New York Post, October 2006 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Maggie Davis is Shopping & Style Editor for London's Time Out magazine. She has also worked at The Observer, Vogue and the London Evening Standard's ES Magazine as a fashion writer. Charlotte Williamson is News Review Editor for the Sunday Telegraph. She has also worked at ES Magazine as a features writer and writes regularly for Harpers Bazaar and Elle. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
My only negative is that a lot of the references were British and I would have enjoyed the book more if it would have been more focused on the U.S.
Oh and who chose the cover? It's extremely dated-looking.
(approximately 7 3/4" x 9 3/4" x 1/2"), is large enough to be impressisve, but small enough to be wieldy, (as upposed to, say, the Manhattan White Pages, which are decidedly UNwieldy.) The covers are quite good and thick for a paperback, and they extend a few inches beyond the book, (but are neatly folded inwards), so that book cover and book flap, substitute nicely for a book jacket that one need never lose. The paper is first-rate, quietly murmering "quality", from first opening the book. The print size is large and clear, and there is a picture, (and sometimes, two pictures), all, (naturally), in colour, and very tastefully arranged on each page.
Not every item is all that expensive, either. The TOWEL, pictured on page 111, from Hammacher Schlemmer, is $29 -- and this is for a bath-size towel. SPICE, at the recommended MM Spices, (in India), is priced from $2 up.
Most items, however, DO fall into the "Luxury" class. But one gets VALUE here, in most items, as well as snob-appeal. Yes -- one can learn a LOT about quality merchandise from reading this book, (and keeping it handy can, hopefully, dissuade one from buying similar -- but far lower-in-quality) merchandise, from mail-order catalogues and sweepstakes companies. However -- when some of the luxury items one knows about, (even not having sampled them very often), are NOT listed, (even as "runners-up") amongsst the '101 Things To Buy Before You Die", a reader becomes truly upset. At least I found myself becoming truly upset....
For instance, listed under "Blankets" on page 79, are a "Vintage Welsh Wool Blanket", in a price range from $20 - $200, offered by Labour and Wait, (UK), and, as a runner-up, a "Peruvian Alpaca Blanket", offered in Andean Handcraft Markets, such as Chinchero and Pisac, These LOOK like nice blankets -- but where is my own favourite? My mom was born in Montreal, you see -- so I grew up with HUDSON BAY BLANKETS --lovely cream colour blankets with thick black, green, and red stripes across them, which -- to my eye -- are much much prettier than either of the two recommended, pictured blankets. HUDSON BAY BLANKETS are..n o t..some obscure blanket manufacturer, known only to Canadians and people who visit Canada.
HUDSON BAY BLANKETS are famous world-wide! I didn't know when I was growing up, that my blanket was a classic -- all I knew was that it was light in weight, and delightfully warm. (I found the concept of an electric blanket highly amusing -- did people really want to risk being electrocuted in their beds?) Later, I found out that Hudson's Bay Blankets were, indeed, a classic -- and were sold by the Hudson's Bay Company...a company that began in the 17th Century, and is still in business today! Hudson's Bay Blankets are very good, very well known -- and have gotten more and more expensive, (I don't think I could afford one today). It definitely deserves at least a MENTION in '101 THINGS TO BUY BEFORE YOU DIE". Sadly, though -- although the description of the "Vintage Welsh wool Blanket" begins with the words: "OK, so the absolute ultimate may be a Hermes cashmere blanket, which costs a few thousand dollars, but that's simply not realistic...", thus mentioning the Hermes blanket in passing -- NOWHERE is the "Canadian Classic" Hudson's Bay Blanket mentioned. Not even in passing, or as a third runner up! Since it IS a luxury item, and a classic item, and the company HAS been in business for (only?) about 350 years, HUDSON'S BAY BLANKETS should definitely have been given at least cursory mention in this book. Or do not the authors know of its existence?
The "Watches For Women" listed here are the Hermes' Cape Cod, at $1800, with the runners-up (mentioned, but not pictured), being
the Cartier Tankissime, (sold in Paris, New York City, on Cartier's website -- AND on Amazon.com : )....for "from $14,000", and the "Ebel Beluga Lady", sold at Torneau stores in North America and on Ebel's website, for $10,000 +. Also mentioned is "The Award For The Most Expensive Watch Ever" -- which goes to Vacheron Constantin, a Swiss company, which made, (if you are still interested), a skeleton watch called "The Kalistra". It was set with 130 carats of emerald-cut diamonds, took 8,700 hours to make, and sold for over 7 million dollars. (Somehow, I'd rather buy a small mansion -- but "chacun a son gout" -- everyone to their own taste.)
What bothers me about the descriptions of these watches is that NOWHERE is it mentioned whether any of these watches are quartz watches, (for which, after spending all that money, one STILL has to keep buying those tiresome batteries), or if they are automatic or wind-up. What bothers me even MORE, is that MY "dream watch" -- the Ladie's Rollex Oyster -- is nowhere mentioned. Again, the Rollex is NOT some obscure brand of which no-one else has ever heard. A brand THIS well known, and a name almost SYNONOMOUS with luxury, should at least be MENTIONED here. But it is not. (I read now, however, that there IS a picture of the $14,000 Cartier Tankissime watch, on page 113m beginning the section on Jewellery. It is a clunky, diamond-studded affair, which makes the 1st place $1800, Hermes Cape Cod watch, look absolutely elegant in it's simplicity, beside the other. And -- yes -- the Rollex Oyster watch actually IS mentioned -- but only in the "Watches For Men" section. And nowhere in the description is a mention that there is also a women's model to be had.
On page 45, is listed "L'Artisan du Chocolate". Sampler boxes range from $7 to $700, and the chocolate is nicely pictured. It is in small squares, each with a distinctive pattern on the front, reminding me somewhat of nail-polish designs. I also have seen it recommended in TOWN AND COUNTRY Magazine. This is obviously delcious chocolate, though I can't say how delicious, because I've never eaten it. What I HAVE eaten, however, is the totally exquisite, totally scrumptious BELGIAN chocolate, manufactured by the GUYLIAN company, (and sold, amongst other places, right here on Amazon!) I must here shamelessly report that I have written a review for GUYLIAN Belgian Chcolate, (their "Sea Shells"), here on Amazon, and in it, I report what my sister's reaction was, upon first tasting Guylian Sea Shells. She said: "I can't believe how good this is." I heartily second her opinion -- I can't think that ANY chocolate could be better. Perhpas "L'Artisan du Chocolate" chocolates are AS good....but somehow, I seriously doubt it. Belgian chocolates are known throughout the world for their excellence. And GUYLIAN Belgian chocolates are TRULY scrumptios. On the page after the description of L'Artisan du Chocolate, a Belgian Chocolatier is mentioned, (Pierre Marcolini) is mentioned -- but GULIAN chocolates are not! It is not mentioned if Pierre Marcolini sells GUYLIAN chocolates, or only those bearing his own name. Perhaps I DO indeed know of some information, (on chocolates and other things), that the authors, with all their far more abundant knowledge on many other things, just do not?
Glaring omissions run through this book. In the "Soap" section, are mentioned "Savon de Marseille", (400g bar for $7 - $10), as the first winner, "African Black Shea Butter Soap", at $2.95 a bar, (no weight given), and, in third place, "Claus Porto Sabonete Aromatico", (12 oz. for $16). NOWHERE is mention made of 'BRONNLEY' soap -- a wonderful English, french-milled soap, which comes in many delightful fragrances. (Bronnley soap has the ROYAL WARRANT, from Queen Elizabeth II! In fact, the various holders of Royal Warrents have banded together, and have their very own website. If one REALLY wants quality, (and 'value for money', as the admirably thrify English Royal Family always demands), the Royal Warrant Holder's website seems definitely the place to go...for many, many more items than just 101!)
I can't claim to be an expert on luxury merchandise, for I have just about exhausted my list of unmentioned alternates, here. However, I am postive that there are, for example, more than one brand of ultra-luxury paint, more than three types of extraordinarily-performing, extraordinarily-priced stoves, and more than two luxury makers of cowboy boots. (By the way, the authors have, as two of their categories, "Jeans For Men" and "Jeans For Women". I may be one of a rapidly-diminishing group who feel that blue jeans, (dungarees), are NOT, at any price, to be cosidered a "luxury" item. But I hereby proudly state MY preference, and MY opinion that blue jeans -- of any type, and price-range -- are a "pre-packaged poverty look". After all, the first blue jeans were miner's pants! (Nothing wrong with mining for a living -- but EVERYTHING wrong with the listing of work-pants amongst luxury items!)
This book has, however, taught me a lot. I never before knew of Pratesi bed-linen, Smeg refrigerators, Louis Roederer Champagne,
The Aga Stove, or Corrado Constanzo ice cream. Or numberous other items within this book. Each item is throughly described, and sometimes its history is given as well. Were I wealthy enough to buy the things I desire from this book, I would ALSO buy some of their competitors. Good sources for finding (other) luxury items include TOWN AND COUNTRY Magazine, ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST Magazine, VOGUE, HARPER'S BAZAAR, FORBES, WEALTH, and others like them. I fully realize that ALL the luxury goods in the world could not be mentioned in reviews in this book -- but surely, a LIST of 4th, 5th, 6th, and perhaps 7th runner-ups in every category would have been useful?
Looking through this book, especially for a longish time, gives one great perspective. Or at least, it gave me great perspective. Some of the items in this book, I certainly would want to buy -- and right away. But others -- well, I wouldn't buy them no matter how rich I was, because they are NOT to my taste. And taste -- in things, in choosing one's friends, in choosing one's life-style, is really actually what counts. Looking at the things I would NOT want to buy, I begin to treasure the PEOPLE in my life that I have in it, and would WANT to have in it, even more. Yes, perhaps the rich ARE different from you and me in many ways. But having taste in friends, in lifestyle, as well as in material goods, is what really counts. At the end of the day, we all need friends and activities that we find stimulating. At the end of the day, we ALL are tired. We all need to take a hot bath or shower, we all need a good night's sleep. Taste -- in life, in people, in life-style, is, in the end, what really does count!