Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Review on Mike and Mike's Rules for Sports and Life

If you like the simulcast of their sports talk show, you may like this book. It reads as if it's a transcript of one of their shows. It was an afternoon diversion. Some Amazon reviewers have written and complained that it contains some old materials and skits.

I got the book from my local library. I would not have paid full or even half price for the book but you can't beat free as a price.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tales of Keeping Your Mind and Protecting Your Money

I skimmed through two books. One book was to help me keep my mind sharp, the second was a lesson in keeping my money, away from greedy bankers, financial advisors and brokers.

As an aging baby boomer I was interested in The Secret Life of the Grown Up Brain by Barbara Strauch. My memory is not what it used to be and my attention to detail, particularly at work, has slipped. Strauch offers an optimistic outlook generally for how well our minds will function as we get older. Her contention is that older people tend to be more content and happier. She offers science and personal stories to support her rosy outlook. She also suggests that we may become more distracted and I can attest to that argument. Amazon readers rate this book very highly. It's not exactly a page turner but as I just said, I get easily distracted.

This may be about the tenth book I have read on the collapse of out financial system. I found parts of The Big Short by Michael Lewis a bit hard to read. Even though I am in banking, I got lost in the details and nuances of some of the transactions and products that Lewis was writing about. This is not a book about the major players who were involved in the financial meltdown of our banks and institutions. However the themes are the same: greed, stupidity and the pillaging of investors who were denied the information and candor to avoid huge personal financial losses.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Reading Scorecard: Home Runs, Hits and Misses

The effort involved in reading is much easier than the effort required in writing. This entry is my catch-up for books that I have read in 2010 but have not yet commented.

Home Runs (Books I have enjoyed and would recommend-WOW experience)
Game Change Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. Fascinating behind the scenes look at the candidates in the 2008 Presidential race. Parts of the book read like a soap opera and the National Enquirer. I will add this warning. If you are a fan of Sarah Palin, John McCain, Judy Giuliani or John and Elizabeth Edwards, you will not enjoy this book. This book about Presidential politics is a lot more personal than those written by Teddy White decades ago.

Hits (Entertaining or thought provoking-just not WOW)
The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr by Ken Gormley. This book is very good but very long (over 800 pages). This is another book covering political history but filled with soap opera and salacious elements. Susan MacDougal comes off as a sympathetic heroine. Gormley succeeded in gaining the confidence and information from all the main players of this national drama in the late 90's.

On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System by Hank Paulson. I've read a number of other books that covered the global meltdown. I never read anything about President George Bush. Paulson describes Bush's participation and efforts during this period. Bush was smart enough to stay out of the way and have Paulson, Bernacke, Geitner and the banking CEOs handle the mess. Paulson also writes unsympathetically about his conversations with John McCain and Sarah Palin during the economic crisis. This was an interesting and easy read covering the behind the scenes and headlines on how the economic crisis was managed and handled.

Split Image (Jesse Stone series) by Robert B. Parker. A good relaxing read for the weekend or on vacation. Great dialogue. No gun play. Interesting character development. I will miss Parker's books.

Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII by John Cromwell. I think the title may be misleading. Pius XII certainly acted for his self interest. He seemed to play both sides of the war. I'll leave it to other readers how responsible he and the Catholic Church were in not preventing the extermination of millions of Jews. Cromwell's book sets the stage for the debate.

Personal Foul by Tim Donaghy. I do not like the author and what he did that got him convicted and imprisoned. I saw the book in the library and read it. It appears to be a good behind the scenes look into NBA referees and how they do their jobs (sometimes with prejudice based on what the author offers.)

Misses (Books I did not like or could not connect with)
The Humbling by Philip Ross. I read the entire book. I was hoping that Simon Axler the 65 year old actor would regain his mojo and zest for life. Disappointingly no. Very depressing story.

36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction by Rebecca Goldstein. I read great reviews and I bought the book. I did not get into the story at all. I stopped halfway into the book.