The subtitle of JJ Luna’s How to Be Invisible may be a better guide to what’s actually contained in the book: “The Essential Guide to Protecting Your Personal Privacy, Your Assets, and Your Life.” Obviously, the phrase “How to Be Invisible” is more eye-catching, easier to sell to book browsers at the airport book store or browsing an online eBook store. Luna’s book is designed to help you protect your privacy in an age where everything and everyone seems more connected and exposed than ever before.
Originally published in 2000, How to Be Invisible was released in a revised edition in 2004, though the bulk of Luna’s advice is contained in the original edition, and if you find a cheaper used copy of the book that came out in 2000, you could save a little cash. The revised edition contains significant changes from the previous editions, which was necessary because of the changes in the privacy situation in the United States following 9/11.
Who Is JJ Luna?
JJ Luna is (no surprise here) a private person. Check out JJ Luna’s website and you’ll come to the same conclusion. There aren’t a ton of photos of the author or any of the typical trappings of writer’s websites. Instead, you get lots of blog posts about new privacy issues and headlines and more than a few eBooks and other new materials by Luna and his colleagues. Luna’s website is a good commercial blog: the writing is good, the design is easy on the eyes, and the content is useful without being overly salesy.
We know a few things about JJ Luna: Luna claims that he moved to Spain in 1959 to start an illegal program to educate people about government and the invasion of privacy. Luna says that he was chased by then-dictator General Francisco Franco and his secret police, but was never caught thanks to his superior skills in maintaining privacy. Luna describes himself as an “international privacy consultant,” and says on his own blog that he “remains in the shadows to this day.” His story is enough to make you want to check out his book.
What’s the Book About?
Luna’s text has been described as “subversive,” “disturbing,” and “remarkable” by book critics ranging from the New York Times to the Guardian. How to Be Invisible is an attempt to expose the amount of invasion of privacy that goes on, from our federal and state governments to the media and even big corporations. From background records to library checkout stalking, most people have no idea how little privacy they really have, and what the dangers of a lack of privacy really are.
Luna’s basic premise is that taking his prescribed privacy measures is like taking out flood insurance: Luna says that the chances that you’ll need help with privacy issues in the future are high enough that you should take the steps he suggests and make yourself as private as possible.
The first section of Luna’s book is literally how to make your physical spaces more private. Luna’s big on setting up an alternate mailing address and disconnecting your physical address from your mailing address. Luna places a lot of emphasis on making your home as anonymous as possible.
As you move through the book, the nooks and crannies of life that Luna shows you how to privatize become more obscure. The book explains how to set up private trusts, how to maintain privacy by setting up limited-liability companies, and how to set up a private home business. Throughout the book are strong pieces of advice about how to maintain control of your personal details, even in the age of the Internet. JJ Luna doesn’t disappear into the advice, either: he has his own aggressive writing style that makes for easy reading. Given the subject matter, this writing style makes a lot of sense.
Who Should Read How To Be Invisible?
Anyone interested in legally protecting your assets and your privacy, either physical or digital, should own a copy of JJ Luna’s book. This book isn’t written for Mafia types looking to disappear to avoid prosecution or corporate execs trying to dodge their taxes; it’s simply about protecting your assets, both material and personal, through privacy. As the Internet creeps deeper into our real lives, privacy is becoming a kind of currency. We go out of our way to “protect” our privacy through adjusting settings on Facebook and Gmail; Luna’s book is like a how-to guide for protecting your home, your bank accounts, and your privacy in the real world.
If you’re interested in privacy, are an avid reader of Background Records Blog, or want to know the extent to which your private details are available to the general public, you’re a member of the ideal audience for Luna’s book.
How to Be Invisible got under my skin for the first time when Luna started asking readers how they would find a person given a specific set of circumstances. He does this several times throughout the book, giving you a situation where you need to find someone and a limited amount of information about that person.
The first time Luna poses the question, you’ll be amazed how little you know about how to find people with limited details.
By the end of the book, Luna will have shown you how easy it is to invade someone else’s privacy.
You’ll get better at finding someone with even less information, a sneaky way for Luna to show you how easy it can be to find people and private details about their lives. The lesson is simple: protect yourself. Your privacy is far from a sure thing, and you don’t have to take all of Luna’s advice to make your life a little more private and a lot more safe.
How To Be Invisible is a good read thanks to Luna’s writing style and his solid tips on making your life more private. I’d recommend it to anyone concerned about privacy in the modern landscape.