Expensive Habits by Peter Mayle could have made for good reading, if only the author had adopted a more humble, observational perspective. focusing on luxury products and services with interesting histories e.g. tailoring, cigars, shoes (£750 for a pair of the finest), and malts. Alas, Mayle devotes chapters to limousines, private flights, second homes abroad, lawyers, and the luxury item that is the mistress! Pretty vile stuff, especially as you can't tell when he is joking or being serious. At least it was a quick read.
On a related note: After reading this book, I read a piece by John Kay which reminds us of the upward drift in living standards over time and makes the point that even though Nathan Rothschild was the richest man in the world in 1836, he died of an illness which could have been cured by 'an antibiotic costing a few pence' today. The economist Tim Harford also noted recently that while much fuss has been made of inequality within countries, whether you are rich or poor on the global scale depends very much on which country you happen to be born in. Both observations are good checks to any feeling of envy one may have over their direct neighbour.
These articles remind us to take the longer and wider perspective when looking at relative properity.