Saturday, June 27, 2009

Long Lost, by Harlan Coben

Coben continues to be a reliable source of interesting, complicated, well written action novels. This is his latest, featuring characters that dedicated readers know and care about. Yes, it is far-fetched. So what; it is great fun.

The Workbench, by Lon Schleining

This is a lovely, and essential, book for anyone contemplating building their own workbench - which is to say, for virtually any amateur woodworker.

It is very different than Schwarz's book - more of a broad survey of types of benches. The photos are fabulous. More details, especially about some of the unusual bench approaches, would have been welcome.

Still, one I'll reference back to many times as a (continuously) plan my own custom workbench.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Will Teach You to be Rich, by Ramit Sethi

I read this book, having learned of it through a blog that I follow, to see if it is worth recommending to my kids. The advice is sound, reasonable, and delivered in a pleasant and conversational tone. The intended audience is clearly 20-somethings.

My only serious complaint about is that in spite of the youthful target demographic, the financial examples use numbers like $100,000 annual salary -- I expect this is hardly the typical income for most readers.

So the verdict: yes, I do recommend it. Don't expect any breakthrough thinking though - just the kind of nagging advice I give, in a more youthful and objective tone:
  • There's nothing wrong with frugality; just decide what your priority expense is and - if you can afford it after paying your bills and saving some money (i.e., via overall frugality) - then go for it
  • Pay off credit cards in full each month
  • Minimize debt to essentials (e.g., house, car), and make sure to get the best rate
  • Pay yourself first - i.e., save regularly and automatic payroll deductions to a separate savings account make that easy to do
  • Take advantage of 401k plans if there's any employer matching; use IRAs, especially Roth IRAs if your income doesn't preclude their use
  • Once you have a year's pay in the bank (Ramit thinks three month's pay is sufficient; by the way, he hates Wells Fargo, and he really likes internet banks), then invest; index funds can be very low overhead (e.g., via Vanguard) and require little thought, and dollar -cost -averaging (invest the same amount month-in and month-out) works well for them
By the way, Ramit doesn't mention this wonderful tip: get this book from your local free public lending library. Costs you nothing. Of course, then he has fewer books to sell :-)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh

This is a masterpiece, but I recommend it with some cautions. The setting is India, 1838, the opium trade to China is at risk. But this is only peripherally about those things; it is about individuals, or more correctly about individuals' transformations.

Note to perspective readers: the dialogue was peppered with Bengali, Hindi, and British 1800's sailor's pidgin. There's a purported glossary at the back of the book which I found painful. I did just fine following things without using the glossary, but decoding some of the dialogue might bug some folks.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Gone Tomorrow, by Lee Child

You may say it is formulaic. I like formulaic. And a bit violent. And predictable. It is all that, and still good fun in a fast and reliable read.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Eighth Day, by Tom Avitable

This excellent suspense / action novel is oddly unavailable from Amazon, but you can get it at Barnes & Noble, or your local library.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune

Need I say more?