Dec 17, 2007

Book Review: One Red Paperclip

Red paperclipRemember this guy's story? You know, Kyle MacDonald, who traded his way from one red paperclip to a house in Kipling, Saskatchewan (yes, that's in Canada). He went from being unemployed and bumming off his girlfriend in a Toronto apartment to real, live homeownership, and all without ever filling out a mortgage application.

Well, now he's written a book about it called, appropriately enough, One Red Paperclip (or Un Trombone Rouge, if you're buying it in Quebec). Of course, I felt it my duty to read it, in case our would-be homebuying readers could stop saving for down payments and start looking for red paperclips instead.

The short answer: Keep saving for the down payment.

But read the book for fun anyway. The author truly seems to subscribe to the notion that the journey is as important as the destination. He takes some insanely long trips for his trades, from Amherst, Massachusetts for a Coleman stove to Phoenix, Arizona for a coupon entitling someone to an afternoon with Alice Cooper. And he seems to have good instincts about finding legitimate trades with colorful people who will make good copy. Although other reviewers have pointed out that Kyle MacDonald's writing style is more youthful than literary, I found it refreshing that he clearly wrote his own book - unlike many other famous folks!

And yes, he is famous now. Although interest in Kyle's trades went a bit slowly at first, he basically became a media phenomenon. People wanted to trade with him just to get their name in the paper.

So there's the secret, revealed: Come up with a great idea, turn yourself into a media phenomenon, and parlay that into owning a home. And don't forget to write a book about it. I promise to read it!

Ilona Bray