The Reading List

February 15, 2021 (last update)

Some of my recent reading (that doesn’t include SEC filings).

  • Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. – For a period, this was one of the best selling books in America, but it was bizarre in every way.   I may never read another one of his books because of it.
  • Kudos – Rachel Cust – Okay, I admit it.  I was hoodwinked into buying all three books of the trilogy, but there really wasn’t any point at all.  There was never a conclusion, a point of reference or even a message.   The first one (Outline) was interesting because it took me through Athens and along the water to Sounio (all very beautiful) but nothing ever happened.  It progressed to less powerful along the way.   A lot of snippets of stories with no conclusion, just a lot of prose.   Don’t bother reading Transit or Kudos.   Outline . . . maybe, but I may just have been personally engaged because of the geography.
  • Transit – Rachel Cusk – Another interesting read, but I am still not sure what the point is.  It seems to be a bunch of dialogue to allow Rachel to tell about events in her life while sharing the emotional and philosophical thoughts surrounding her evolution.   An interesting method, but there is little point to the stories.   Still I will read the third book to see if there is any point at the end.  The prose is good at least.
  • Outline – Rachel Cusk – An interesting book and I went through it in a few hours, as it was pretty easy to read.  The story takes the reader to various parts of Athens which are now quite familiar to me, even the parts on the water.
  • East of Eden – John Steinbeck – A classic – It was long but worth the read really.  Timshel, is my new favourite word.
  • Too Much and Never Enough – Mary Trump – An inside view of Trump, his lies and cheating, and efforts to take power in the ‘fake it ’til you make it’ world we are living in now.
  • Sapiens – Yuval Harari – this is the book that I wish I wrote. I should have read it five years ago, but now is better than never. Many might find it difficult (it took me a month actually) and those who have a God may find it either offensive or enlightening but it is a great ‘brief history’ account of our place on earth.
  • In The Garden of Beasts – Erik Larson – I read this a few years ago, but with Trump’s actions, I wish all of my readers would read this historically accurate account of Hitlers’ first years in power. It is a great example of how powerful forces can slowly alter the balance of society by raising up some and diminishing others. When done without a conscience, the outcome can be both disastrous and unintended.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood – The latest edition has a nice forward from Margaret Atwood. It is an interesting dystopian examination of misogyny and how fanatical beliefs can lead to unintended loss of freedom for ‘non-believers’.
  • The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway – A Classic Novel.  One of many that I expect to attack this year . . . we will see if I get through them.
  • Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami – A Japanese coming of age novel.  The official English translation was an excellent read but the novel was emotionally taxing.
  • Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
    • The author has a few mental issues (truthfully, that’s why her blog is a big hit), and this book made me laugh out loud a number of times.   It is not a novel, it’s a series of short essays and a bit over the top at times, and a bit of a downer at others.   Sounds a bit like the author’s disease.  It was an easy and enjoyable read.
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a family and Culture in Crisis
    • What started out as an interesting story quickly became a ‘make me famous’ story of success and stamina to overcome a very troubled past.  Interesting, but then you realize he was contemplating a run for the US senate just after it’s publication and well . . .
  • Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
    • Reading this tome has given voice to all of my inclinations about Donald Trump. For years while he has been building his image I have stated emphatically that he is a terrible businessman and an idiot and the machinations uncovered for this book clarify my assertions. Enough said. It’s a good read, but only if you are interested in the internal workings of a dysfunctional, budding dictatorship.
  • Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
    • This book meanders through the life story of Kathy H. The prose is very appealing and the book is an easy read, but it lacks any real excitement, just a sustained level of modest intrigue for what will happen to Kathy and her friends.
  • Bad Girl, by Mario Vargas Llosa
    • As I started this book I got the feeling it was a biography, and the details are magnificent, if somewhat distracting, but certainly lend an air of authenticity to the characters. A great story about love, social climbing and the vagaries of time.
  • The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
    • This is one of the best selling books of all time and I can understand why, but really, don’t bother reading it. It’s just blather about mystical reasons for justifying whatever path your on. A good book on planning would be more helpful.
  • Red Notice, by Bill Browder
    • This book should be read by everyone who wants to understand the dangers of dealing with Russia, their corrupt regime and the consequences for the world at large. This small bit of modern corporate and political drama is still playing out on the international scene (Canada recently passed the Magnitsky Act).
  • Londongrad, by Mark Hollingsworth & Stewart Lansley
    • Just starting this one, but it looks to be a nice bit of research along the lines of Red Notice.   If you weren’t already worried about Putin, Xi, Trump and the rest of the leaders seeking absolute control of their country and indeed the world, these stories should scare the crap out of you.  Certainly they should cause you to use your freedom to vote!! … [Update – August, 2018]  Finally finished.  This is not an easy book to read, with lots of details regarding the oligarchs, their minions and their transactions.   I am particularly interested in the effects of this money trail on everyday citizens.  With the ‘easy money’ pushing up prices on assets and causing distortions in sovereign markets.   This book details effects on housing, autos, art and other luxury goods, but also does a good job of describing how the middle class was moved out of the way by this surge of spending.   Also some notes regarding the inefficient taxation caused by these actions.
  • The Immortalists, by Chole Benjamin
    • An interesting read about a group of children and how their fates are all intertwined and seemingly controlled by a gypsy fortune teller.  An interesting depiction of the gay scene in San Francisco in the 70’s as well as a depiction of life for an artsy high school drop out and her struggle to achieve her dream.   The overall story isn’t very realistic, but these depictions were well done.
  • The Art of Vanishing (A memoir of Wanderlust), by Laura Smith
    • So I bought this book because it was to be an examination of what drives someone to drop everything and leave . . . it was not at all as expected.   This is a story of author Barbara Follett who wrote two books before the age of 16 and then suffered through much of the rest of her (known) life until she (apparently) walked away from her life at 25 and has never been seen or heard from again.  It is intertwined with the author’s own story about wanting to avoid societal norms and her attempts at the same, including trying an ‘open marriage’ with her husband.   This book was nothing like what I expected and a fascinating read.  I read it in 24 hours and had to know what happened to Barbara Follett.  I would tell you what I know, but that would spoil the book.

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