Saturday, September 6, 2014

What I've Been Reading

Donnybrook by Frank Bill. I thought I knew what I was getting into when I first read about this book. It was about some unsavory characters headed for a bare-knuckle Toughman competition in southern Indiana. I like MMA, and I like some dark undertones in my literature. I was unprepared. Not that I was offended by anything in Bill's first novel, but it's chockful of drug use, sex, people with disabilities, gory violence, incest, and other warped things that one usually associates with the state of Ohio. The characters are quite numerous - not as much as Game of Thrones, though - and some names are so odd (Jarhead, Chainsaw Angus, etc.) that I had a hard time keeping them straight at the beginning. The prose was designed to be rough, so it's not for anyone looking for the beauty of the English language. But when I was finished, I wanted to take a shower, so I guess the author did something right.

American Sniper  by Chris Kyle. Kyle was America's most accomplished sniper in history, making anywhere from 109 to 170 kills (kill totals are somewhat questionable in war). I say "was" because he was murdered by a fellow soldier he was trying to help after the book was released. Kyle was a Navy SEAL, and the first half of the book generally talks about his childhood, adolescence, and training. The second half goes through many of his operations during the Iraq war from 1999-2009. Scattered throughout are some insightful passages from his wife, who shares some of her perceptions of life with her husband overseas.

Gone, Baby, Gone  by Dennis Lehane. In Mystic River  Dave's wife said no one in real life would be clever enough to say "Your money or your life, bitch." But the dialogue in Gone, Baby, Gone  reminded me of some cheesy banter from The DaVinci Code. Realism does not seem to be Lehane's strong suit, but he does weave a pretty good story that can tug at the heart strings a little bit. If you haven't read this one (or seen the movie starring Casey Affleck and Morgan Freeman), it leaves you with an interesting choice about which outcome you would prefer. While I did enjoy the movie, it doesn't even begin to explore as much territory as the book.

Moonlight Mile  by Dennis Lehane. A sequel to Gone, Baby, Gone, I would not recommend it unless you're a Lehane fanatic. The story was uninspired and seemed to be trying too hard to make connections to its predecessor. The characters were disappointingly undeveloped and cliche, which made me hope for it to finish rather quickly. Luckily, it was a short read.

Boomerang  by Michael Lewis. I had not actually come across this book until I saw Lewis being interviewed on Conan  for his newer book, Flash Boys, which caused me to look up some of his lesser known works (everyone has heard of The Blind Side  and Moneyball). Boomerang  explains the financial busts in Greece, Iceland, and Ireland, and also talks about a seemingly inevitable bust for America. Of course, there have always been economic fluctuations, so the book doesn't recommend panic. The overall message, really, goes along with Malkiel's book (below) that suggests that short-term investments often result in long-term penalties.

The Elements of Investing  by Burton Malkiel. I originally purchased this book just to get a better grasp on investments in general. As an amateur investor, I am planning to retire in 30 or 40 or . . . 50 . . . maybe 60 years. You know, if Social Security lasts that long. We'll see. I've been investing in a Roth IRA for several years, but I wanted to see how they stack up against Traditional IRAs, 401ks, and the like. It was a worthwhile, short-but-sweet read for someone who's exploring the stock market and long-term investing, but there aren't a whole lot of particulars.

Savages  by Don Winslow. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a cheap thrill, and this time it came in the form of this book, which preceded the 2013 movie (LINK) starring Taylor Kitsch, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta, Salma Hayek, and Blake Lively. It tells the story of a couple southern California guys who run an effective but small-ish illegal marijuana outfit. Naturally, they run afoul of a Mexican cartel, which leaves them overmatched as they fight for their business and their lives. The writing is humorous at times, but it has the flow of someone who has enjoyed a few blunts once in a while. There are lots of plays on words, several of which are stillborn. But there's enough here to make me think about going back to Winslow for a guilty pleasure sometime down the road.


  1. The death and life of Bobby Z by Don Winslow is an earlier book of his and is much better.

  2. thought it was interesting hulk hogan won his case against the "american sniper" does that change your view of his book? also I've been day trading based off chart analysis for 9 years...glad to assist you in any ways with that if you like, i know a few books that are amazing... no worries weewuu

    1. Jesse Ventura brought the suit.

  3. Savages is the only one of those that I have read - fun book and movie

    Looking at your lineup; I'd suggest:
    Confessions of an Economic Hitman - by Perkins
    Jawbreaker - by ?

  4. I'm reading the Qur'an. Maybe it's this particular translation, or maybe I'm just biased against it, but as philosophy, religion or even literature, compared to the Bible, Talmud, Torah ..... it's high school lame.

    I'm probably 60% through it and disappointed in the extreme.

    Everybody who has ever traded practically anything has read Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefevre. It's the story of the famed speculator Jesse Livermore who quite possibly made ... lost ... made ... lost more money than anyone in the history of speculation.

    It's a very fast, breezy and entertaining read whether you trade or not.

  5. Granted, comparing is a bit apples-to-oranges given the different genres, but the best book I've ever read is "The Beginning of Infinity" by physicist David Deutsch. The chapter arguing for parallel universes, and parts of the chapter on infinity were over my head, but the rest is accessible, covered many topics from a novel, brilliant perspective. Think it is a masterpiece.
    Here's a review from the NYT:

  6. I'm currently reading "The Last Lion," a biography of Winston Churchill, by William Manchester. I'm reading volume 1 of 3, which is from birth (1874) through 1932. I'm up to 1885 or so ... the book's pace is slow and deliberate, as is painting a very detailed portrait of life for the aristocracy in the late Victorian age. The Victorian aristocracy were a randy bunch, despite their reputation for stuffy repression. Bed-hopping was common at that level of society, if I'm to believe this book ... and based on all I know about Manchester, he's a biographer who does his homework.

  7. Try reading The Last Man by Jay A. Heller

  8. Where DO you find the time? I feel pretty proud of myself if I finish one book in a month. Your life seems busier than mine and you still read far more. I don't know how you do it.