The Big Short

I’m halfway through The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis. It’s a non-ficton book examining the events that led up to the 2008 U.S. stock market crash. It’s been a bit of a learning curve as I have no background in feeder markets, credit default swaps, bond and real-estate derivative markets, sub-prime mortgages, etc. It was slow-going at first while I tried to wrap my head around all the new (to me, at least) terms and concepts.

The thing I like about this book is that the author writes it as a character-driven narrative; he doesn’t throw a bunch of facts at you. He weaves them in while describing the people behind-the-scenes, what they were doing and thinking, how they were reacting.

It’s a fascinating, unbelievable read. I need to finish the last 150 pages tonight; it was due at the library today!

Second Helpings

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series is one of the best YA series out there.

Instead of reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, I opted to revisit my favourite YA protagonist in Second Helpings. Jessica Darling is just so smart and scathing and sarcastic and sentimental and needy… I can’t help but love her. Since it was the 10th anniversary of the first book, Sloppy Firsts, back in September, I knew I’d be re-reading the rest of the series sometime soon. I couldn’t have picked a better time; I was getting burned out by all the sprawling family drama novels.

I just wish the covers of this series were different. I think they make the books look like light chick lit reads, and they’re anything but.

Father of the Rain

Lily King’s newest book, Father of the Rain, was difficult to read at times. You’re introduced to the narrator, Daley, as she and her father drive home in the car with a brand-new puppy, a present for her 11th birthday. Daley is only pretending to be happy as she’s keeping a huge secret from her father–she and her mom are moving out of the house the next day and dad has no idea. Basically, the rest of the book explores Daley’s volatile relationship with her prejudiced, high-functioning alcoholic father through her teen years and into her adult life.

I don’t normally seek out books like this one to read. Honestly, they make me sad. You see what a horrible man her father is, how he treats his children, and then you see how charismatic and loving he can be. You get that little glimmer of hope that yes, he can change, and he does for a while, then he relapses and is worse than ever. And through it all is the child/adult’s conflicted, never-ending love.

I take full responsibility for choosing this book. No one recommended it. It was the little blurb by Booklist that caught my eye:

“A riveting portrait of a father so spectacularly dysfunctional that he rivals Alfred Lambert in Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections… Readers will be thoroughly taken by King’s exceptionally fluid prose and razor-sharp depiction of the East Coast country-club set.”

I read The Corrections and liked it, and the line about the “East Coast country-club set” intrigued me, so I picked up the book. While not my favourite type of read, I must say that King’s writing is pointed, fluid, and affecting. She packs a punch with just a sentence or two.

Next up, Man in the Woods, by Scott Spencer.

Never Too Late

I heard Gail Vaz-Oxlade and her editor promoting Gail’s new book, Never Too Late, on CBC-Radio the other day, and since I like reading about personal finance, I picked it up at the library.

Most of the content in the book wasn’t new to me, but what was new about her book compared to other personal finance books, was her tone. She has a no-nonsense approach to finance that I like, and she writes (and speaks) in a language that everyone can understand. It’s a good book if you’re thinking about how you’re going to afford retirement and don’t want to be bored to death reading about it. Many personal finance books put me to sleep with their dry, and sometimes condescending, tones.

Lois Lane comic

Finally got around to reading the Lois Lane comic that a friend of Trevor’s lent me. The comic is from 1963, and wow, the stuff the writers got away with, specifically the portrayal of women. There are three stories within the comic and each one features Lois Lane and Lana Lang fighting over their “dreamboat” Superman.

Some of the more memorable lines:

Lois: “Isn’t he magnificent!”

Lana: “This is the most agonizing moment of my life! If the dial points to her name, I’ve got to give up Superman! But if I win, she has to get out of his life!”

Lana: “Read it and weep, Lois! Ha! Ha! Superman’s love for me was so overwhelming it broke the detector!”

Lois: “You schemer! I warn you–keep away from Superman!”

And the way Superman talks to Lois and Lana! I’d like to slap him in his invincible face. (Okay, I’m exaggerating, but still.)

My favourites are:

“Lois, I’m always bawling you out for being reckless and following your foolish hunches…”

And

“Now girls, calm down.” — as he tries to break up their “cat fight.”

Sigh. I know it was different times back then, but seriously?

Below is the offending cover.