The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Audio Book)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I realize I am way late to this party but I finally got around to reading (actually listening to) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. By now most people are already aware of the plot due to the book’s success and the release of a movie staring now Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence. I will say that I really enjoyed the book and will most likely listen to the following two books in the series. In case you have no idea what it is about, here is the description from Amazon.com:

“In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.” – Amazon.com

Tim Ferro

Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem

I don’t even know where to begin when describing this book. It is captivating, infinitely complex, and interesting. When I was reading it, it was completely absorbing; and when I finished, everything I thought I understood changed.

Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem is a fantastic piece of pure fiction. From Amazon.com: “Chase Insteadman, former child television star, has a new role in life—permanent guest on the Upper East Side dinner party circuit, where he is consigned to talk about his astronaut fiancée, Janice Trumbull, who is trapped on a circling Space Station. A chance encounter collides Chase with Perkus Tooth, a wily pop culture guru with a vicious conspiratorial streak and the best marijuana in town. Despite their disparate backgrounds and trajectories Chase and Perkus discover they have a lot in common, including a cast of friends from all walks of life in Manhattan.  Together and separately they attempt to define the indefinable, and enter into a quest for the most elusive of things: truth and authenticity in a city where everything has a price.

Tim Ferro

Absolute Monarchs by John Julius Norwich (Audio Book)

Absolute Monarchs by John Julius Norwich is a fascinating book about the history and intrigue of the Catholic papacy. From the beginning until current day, this book chronicles and highlights all notable, famous, and infamous popes. This book sheds a new light on the history of Europe and the evolution of Catholicism. Though incredibly interesting, I can imagine that reading this book would not be as enjoyable as listening to the self-narrated audio book. It is simply massive and not casual reading friendly. As an audio book; however, it was well paced and well read. I recommend this book for Catholics and history buffs.

Tim Ferro

Catch as Catch Can Review

If you love Catch-22, Closing Time, and the writing style of Joseph Heller like I do, then you must complete your fanboy knowledge of Joseph Heller and the world of Yossarian by reading this book. I thoroughly enjoyed this book for the following reasons:

  1. There are deleted scenes from Catch-22/Closing Time that add even more depth to the book and characters.
  2. The background of how this phenomenon came to be and what happened after is really interesting.
  3. The non-Catch-22 related short stories are great and are in the same Heller-esk writing style.

As you can see by my reasons for recommending this book, there are really 3 main types of chapters in this book. There are a number of unpublished or previously published short stories by Heller that are entertaining and well written in their own right. Second there are chapters that add to the worlds of Catch-22 and Closing Time. Finally there are chapters that give back-story of Joseph Heller, his life, and how that found its way in to his writings and what happened because of the overwhelming success of Catch-22.

I picked this book up from the library, read it, and returned it quickly without writing a full review. This is not as in-depth as I would like but it needed to be written. Check this book out of your local library ASAP!

Tim Ferro

The Girl Who Played With Fire…

is the amazing sequel to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo! After a year or so break, our favorite protagonists are back at it with a mystery from Lisbeth’s dark past. It twists and turns and exposes more about her than she would want you to know. The climax at the end of the book leaves you hanging as to our heroines fate, but luckily the third book (of the Millennium Series) picks up immediately after this one ends. Another 10 out of 10 for Stieg Larsson.

Tim Ferro

Review of Starbucked by Taylor Clark

“A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture” just about sums up this book. Starbucked is a short read that is pretty entertaining if you like coffee or business or culture and just want the 30,000 foot view with some interesting and entertaining stories. The history and astounding growth of Starbucks is quite interesting, as are the stories about the history of coffee and the culture surrounding all of them. I recommend this as a quick read but not as highly as some of the previous books I have just reviewed.

Tim Ferro

Skinny Bastard, the Bro Version of Skinny Bitch

After reading, and reviewing, Skinny Bitch, I decided to read the “Bro Version” called Skinny Bastard. I liked this book better because it was tailored to males which was more pertinent to me, but also because it was longer and contained more information. If you have read either of these books, there is no real need to read the other, but if you haven’t, pick up the gender appropriate one and read away! Check out my review of Skinny Bitch for more information about both books!

Tim Ferro

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was Gripping

Once I started reading, I could not put this book down. This book is riveting, dark, and deep. There are a number of incredibly interesting story arcs in this book that all interact seamlessly. At first there are separate stories of Lisbeth and Mikael and how they came to meet. Then there are their own personal issues. And finally there is the main mystery of the book; but then there is another story to wrap up at the end. Larsson blends murder mystery with interesting technology and character depth rarely seen. This first book of the Millennium Trilogy is a 10 out of 10.

Tim Ferro

George Soros Needs A Ghost Writer

I like finance. I like finance a lot. I like it more than most people. I like it enough to go out and read a book titled: The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means by George Soros. But I really struggled through over half of this book. Soros is a brilliant financial mind but he spends over half of this book extolling his personal theory on human sociology and how that relates to financial markets and creates a “super bubble”. Early in the book, when he says to skip ahead, do it. Trust me.

Now the parts of the book, though brief, that deal with the topics depicted in the title of the book are very good but it left me wanting more. A follow up sequel is desperately needed as the book leaves off during the peak of the financial crisis of 2008. I respect George Soros and I know that he is definitely a financial genius but I just cannot recommend this book. A second edition or sequel would possibly change my mind; in fact, I volunteer to ghost write it with him. If you do pick up this book, I suggest you skip ahead where he suggests you do and just read the financially focused sections.

Has anyone else read this book? What did you think? Can you recommend any better books on the same topic?

Tim Ferro

Gen Y, What’s Your 2010 Reading List?

With the release of Seth Godin’s new book Linchpin, I have now finalized my 2010 reading list! I have not been great at keeping up with reading but my new year’s resolution is to read one book per month all year. I have had the beginning of my list done for a bit but I have been looking for some books to round out my list. I am now done and I present this list for your consideration and as a way to keep myself on task. I will blog about each book after I finish it. Admittedly I am already behind on my first month but I am stepping up my effort to get back to even soon. So without further ado, here is my reading list:

George SorosJanuary

“In the midst of the most serious financial upheaval since the Great Depression, legendary financier George Soros explores the origins of the crisis and its implications for the future. Soros, whose breadth of experience in financial markets is unrivaled, places the current crisis in the context of decades of study of how individuals and institutions handle the boom and bust cycles that now dominate global economic activity. “This is the worst financial crisis since the 1930s,” writes Soros in characterizing the scale of financial distress spreading across Wall Street and other financial centers around the world. In a concise essay that combines practical insight with philosophical depth, Soros makes an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the great credit crisis and its implications for our nation and the world.” – Amazon.com

Jim Cramer February

“In his new book, Cramer offers the most detailed guidance he has ever given on how to invest in a changed market. Savvy investors will not just survive; they will thrive. Cramer begins with six rules for protecting the money you have and making sure that you have the money you need. (Rule Number 3: Skip the first four stages of portfolio grief: denial, anger, bargaining, and depression.) Your portfolio won’t fix itself; you have to do that. It’s easy to close your eyes and pretend that it all never happened, but you’ll never get back to even that way, much less profit from the opportunities that this new market offers to investors who know where to put their money. One key to making investment decisions is to watch what the mutual-fund managers are doing and — better yet — to anticipate their moves. Cramer tells you how to do this. Their decisions will move markets, and you want to profit from these moves.” – Amazon.com

Joseph HellerMarch

“Just like the original Catch-22, this sequel opens with Yossarian in a hospital bed, flirting with the nurses. Now in his seventies, Yossarian is depressed by his perfect health: things can only get worse. He lives alone in a Manhattan apartment not far from most of his old war buddies, including Milo Minderbinder, a defense contractor straight out of Dr. Strangelove. Yossarian and company mourn the decline of New York City and American culture in general and look back longingly to the golden age of prewar Coney Island. The symbolic center of the book is a surreal wedding extravaganza held at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and hosted by Minderbinder, who recruits highly paid actors to portray derelicts and prostitutes. This work attempts the same sort of giddy black humor that made its predecessor a classic, but the underlying mood is somber, almost elegiac. A profoundly disturbing novel, if not quite up to the standard of Catch-22; recommended for all fiction collections.” – Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles

Taylor ClarkApril

“Part Fast Food Nation, part Bobos in Paradise, STARBUCKED combines investigative heft with witty cultural observation in telling the story of how the coffeehouse movement changed our everyday lives, from our evolving neighborhoods and workplaces to the ways we shop, socialize, and self-medicate.

In STARBUCKED, Taylor Clark provides an objective, meticulously reported look at the volatile issues like gentrification and fair trade that distress activists and coffee zealots alike. Through a cast of characters that includes coffee-wild hippies, business sharks, slackers, Hollywood trendsetters and more, STARBUCKED explores how America transformed into a nation of coffee gourmets in only a few years, how Starbucks manipulates psyches and social habits to snare loyal customers, and why many of the things we think we know about the coffee commodity chain are false.” – Amazon.com

Hank MoodyMay

“A wry literary masterpiece, God Hates Us All is a coming-of-age tale for the apathetic generation. Hank Moody’s self-loathing yet darkly likeable narrator is a college drop-out-turned-accidental-drug-dealer enveloped in a world of contradictions. His boss — a bong-hitting, dreadlocked Pontiff figure — runs a remarkably organized and ingenious illegal trade patronized by, among others, a sweater-set-wearing Upper East Sider, a Wall Street hotshot, and a wannabe rock star with a hard-to-resist model girlfriend. The lonely narrator yearns for more than the tenuous but intimate thread he shares with his clients. To escape his mother’s desperate expectations, his father’s endless disappointments, and his certifiably insane ex-girlfriend, he moves to the city’s mecca of ambitious slackers — the Chelsea Hotel — where the pursuit of lust (and the rock star’s girlfriend) sends him on a series of well-intentioned misadventures that lead him right back where he started. Told in a unique and subtle voice, God Hates Us All is ironic, optimistic, and unforgettable.” – Amazon.com

Joseph Heller

June

“With his first book, the seminal anti-war novel Catch-22, Joseph Heller became one of American literature’s most important 20th-century writers. The posthumous collection, Catch As Catch Can: The Collected Stories and Other Writings, shows Heller’s early development as a writer, but in essence provides the “outtakes,” “B-sides,” and sketches related to Catch-22, and several nonfiction pieces regarding it, mixed with juvenilia. A more appropriate title might have been The Making of Catch-22.” – Amazon.com

Dambisa Moyo

July

“In this important analysis of the past fifty years of international (largely American) aid to Africa, economist and former World Bank consultant Moyo, a native of Zambia, prescribes a tough dose of medicine: stopping the tide of money that, however well-intentioned, only promotes corruption in government and dependence in citizens. With a global perspective and on-the-ground details, Moyo reveals that aid is often diverted to the coffers of cruel despotisms, and occasionally conflicts outright with the interests of citizens-free mosquito nets, for instance, killing the market for the native who sells them. In its place, Moyo advocates a smarter, though admittedly more difficult, policy of investment that has already worked to grow the economies of poor countries like Argentina and Brazil. Moyo writes with a general audience in mind, and doesn’t hesitate to slow down and explain the intricacies of, say, the bond market. This is a brief, accessible look at the goals and reasons behind anti-aid advocates, with a hopeful outlook and a respectful attitude for the well-being and good faith of all involved. ” – Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Sam Davidson, Stephen Moseley

August

“New Day Revolution shows you how small changes in your daily routine can make a big difference. Next time you throw out the juice carton, take five seconds to compact it and save space in the landfill, or grab an extra box of crayons for your local school when you buy a box for your child. For people who feel they have little time, this first book from the duo that launched CoolPeopleCare.org gives helpful hints, practical tips, and step by step instructions on how to make a big difference in the local community and the world at-large with whatever time you have. We can’t all be Jack Bauer, running down bad guys and defusing bombs – but we can all make an impact where we are with what we’ve got.” – Amazon.com

Seth GodinSeptember

“In bestsellers such as Purple Cow and Tribes, Seth Godin taught readers how to make remarkable products and spread powerful ideas. But this book is different. It’s about you – your choices, your future, and your potential to make a huge difference in whatever field you choose.

There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team, the linchpins. These people invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos. They figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.

Linchpins are the essential building blocks of great organizations. Like the small piece of hardware that keeps a wheel from falling off its axle, they may not be famous but they’re indispensable. And in today’s world, they get the best jobs and the most freedom.” – Amazon.com

Louis LowensteinOctober

“Based on cutting-edge research by leading corporate critic Louis Lowenstein, The Investor’s Dilemma: How Mutual Funds Are Betraying Your Trust and What to Do About It reveals how highly overpaid fund sponsors really operate and walks you through the conflicts of interest found throughout the industry. Page by page, you’ll discover the real problems within the world of mutual funds and learn how to overcome them through a value-oriented approach to this market.” – Amazon.com

“A valuable text for passive investors.”–Barron’s

Jonathan Lethem

November

Amazon Best of the Month, October 2009: Jonathan Lethem, the home-grown frontrunner of a generation of Brooklyn writers, crosses the bridge to Manhattan in Chronic City, a smart, unsettling, and meticulously hilarious novel of friendship and real estate among the rich and the rent-controlled. Lethem’s story centers around two unlikely friends, Chase Insteadman, a genial nonentity who was once a child sitcom star and now is best known as the loyal fiancé of a space-stranded astronaut, and Perkus Tooth, a skinny, moody, underemployed cultural critic. Chase and Perkus are free-floating, dope-dependent bohemians in a borough built on ambition, living on its margins but with surprising access to its centers of power, even to the city’s billionaire mayor. Paranoiac Perkus sees urgent plots everywhere–in the font of The New Yorker, in an old VHS copy of Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid–but Chronic City, despite the presence of death, politics, and a mysterious, marauding tiger, is itself light on plot. Eschewing dramatic staples like romance and artistic creation for the more meandering passions of friendship and observation, Chronic City thrives instead on the brilliance of Lethem’s ear and eye. Every page is a pleasure of pitch-perfect banter and spot-on cultural satire, cut sharply with the melancholic sense that being able to explain your city doesn’t make you any more capable of living in it.” -Tom Nissley

jack Kerouac

December

The legendary 1951 scroll draft of On the Road, published word for word as Kerouac originally composed it

Though Jack Kerouac began thinking about the novel that was to become On the Road as early as 1947, it was not until three weeks in April 1951, in an apartment on West Twentieth Street in Manhattan, that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him. Typed out as one long, single-spaced paragraph on eight long sheets of tracing paper that he later taped together to form a 120-foot scroll, this document is among the most significant, celebrated, and provocative artifacts in contemporary American literary history. It represents the first full expression of Kerouac’s revolutionary aesthetic, the identifiable point at which his thematic vision and narrative voice came together in a sustained burst of creative energy. It was also part of a wider vital experimentation in the American literary, musical, and visual arts in the post-World War II period.

It was not until more than six years later, and several new drafts, that Viking published, in 1957, the novel known to us today. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of On the Road, Viking will publish the 1951 scroll in a standard book format. The differences between the two versions are principally ones of significant detail and altered emphasis. The scroll is slightly longer and has a heightened linguistic virtuosity and a more sexually frenetic tone. It also uses the real names of Kerouac’s friends instead of the fictional names he later invented for them. The transcription of the scroll was done by Howard Cunnell who, along with Joshua Kupetz, George Mouratidis, and Penny Vlagopoulos, provides a critical introduction that explains the fascinating compositional and publication history of On the Road and anchors the text in its historical, political, and social context.” – Amazon.com

So that’s my list. I am excited to read them all. Clearly I have a bias toward financial books but other than that, it’s a mix of classic and new. Gen Y, what’s your 2010 reading list?

Tim Ferro