Real Estate Obsession: Meghan Daum's House Fever


The classic truism of real estate is that buying a house is the biggest investment you'll ever make. But as Meghan Daum's pitch-perfect memoir of real estate obsession, "Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House," makes clear, the financial investments of owning a house probably pale next to the emotional investments, and can often be more ruinous.

Sketched over the story of the 30 or more residences Daum has lived in from childhood to the day she gets married, "Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House" is not a real estate memoir per se. Rather it's a witty settling-down story of Daum's journey through a prolonged adolescence; life in college dorms; early days as a journalist in New York; her flight from the big city to (of all places) Lincoln, Neb.; and, finally, her arrival in Los Angeles. There, after many fits and starts, she finds the house (and man) of her dreams.

It is, as Daum writes, "the story of what happens when, for whatever reason, your identity becomes almost totally wrapped up in not who you are or how you live but in where you live."

In her often glowing writing, real estate becomes the scrim on which she and her family project a life that is "always two stops away from the destination we had in mind for ourselves."