How to Invest $50-$5000 (a book review)

how to invest

Ethan picked up an investment book and asked me to read it. I think the reasoning was that since he was spending all day earning the money, the least I could do was to put forth the initial effort to figure out where to put the money. Sounds reasonable. Of course, the book was so boring, I still might hold it against him.

How to Invest $50-$5000; the Small Investor’s Step-By-Step Plan for Low-Risk, High-Value Investing (phew!) by Nancy Dunnan is probably my first attempt into the world of finance. I mean, I know how to balance a checkbook, and I know how to make a budget, but that’s about it. Ethan and I looked into buying a house last year, and blew our minds learning new terminology left and right. This book kind of had the same effect; not that it was mind-blowing; more just that my brain was left in little shredded pieces by the time I was done.

I have to be fair; if you are already interested in finance, and you just want to know how to do it small-scale, this is the book for you. Also, if you take the book over a four- or five-year process, reading each chapter and then implementing it before moving on to the next, it might also be really helpful. I think the thing that overwhelmed me was that the first few chapters talked about what to do with your $50 (things like treasury bonds, for instance), and then moved very quickly up the scale to explaining different stock portfolio options. It’s not rocket science, but I just didn’t have enough background knowledge to grasp what Dunnan was talking about most of the time.

This is not a beginner’s finance book. I am a beginner. ♦

A Man Called Ove

man called ove

How do I say enough about this book?

A Man Called Ove was another book club book that I read just in time not to go to book club. Oops. But I will still be eternally grateful that I finished the thing, because it’s incredible. Fredrik Backman is incredible.

A Man Called Ove is a Swedish book, about a lonely old curmudgeon who just wants to die. That’s all he wants to do. And people just keep getting in his way. His neighbors get in his way. His old friends get in his way. The stupid stray cat who froze itself half to death out by the tool shed keeps getting in his way. And over time, he starts to make friends (against his will, largely) with the new, quirky neighbors and their kids. He takes in a gay man (against his will) whose father has disowned him. He saves the stupid cat (against his will) from freezing to death. And he wages absolute war against the government agency in charge of taking his old friend away from his family.

He also hits a clown.

This book is hilarious and heartwarming. Please go read it. ♥

Collected Poems of Federico García Lorca


So. I’m exploring poetry. I’m also exploring the world. Which is what brought me to Spain’s Federico García Lorca, and his entire collected works.

Which are really great, once in a while. One of my favorite poems from this collection has a section which reads, “Por tu amor me duele el aire, el corazón y el sombrero.” (Your love gives me an air-ache, a heartache, and a hat-ache.) Lorca has a beautiful gift with words.

Unfortunately, he spends his gift with words on an avant-garde approach that pushes the limits just for the sake of pushing the limits. Sometimes I can appreciate this. But … not for an entire life’s work. Like, I think it’s great to make poems that don’t make sense. But for crying out loud, please make at least 1 out of 10 follow-able.

I love the way Lorca’s poetry sounds, but I really wish it was a little more accessible. What I really want is to find a poet who uses language as clever and unpredictable as Lorca, but who still wants the reader to know what the poem is talking about. Can anyone direct me to someone like that? ♦

Under the Blood-Red Sun

under the blood red sun

Here’s another book I picked up just because the cover art looked interesting: Under the Blood-Red Sun, by Graham Salisbury. This is a YA book, historical fiction.

The story follows a Japanese-American boy in his early teens, living in Hawaii during World War II. Of course, for the first half of the book, the war is only background noise, because the U.S. isn’t involved yet. But after Pearl Harbor is bombed, Tomi starts noticing people treating him differently because he’s Japanese. Soldiers start asking questions about Tomi’s family, especially his grandfather and father. His father, out on a fishing boat when the bombs hit, is arrested on his way back into shore and put into a detainment camp.

This story does a great job of showing what war is like for the people on the ground, especially in areas where it might not hit every single day. It also explores what racism and fear can do to a community, and where those fears come from. This is a beautiful book. ♦

Penny Dreadfuls

penny dreadfuls

I picked up Penny Dreadfuls from Pioneer Book around Halloween time. I picked it up for a few reasons. It was on the Halloween display, and I kind of love that holiday. It was also a pretty attractive book. Bright red, with razors all over the front. (I have a pretty messed up version of “attractive” around October.) It contained the original story of Sweeney Todd, which I’ve always wanted to read. And it was edited by a man whose last name was Dziemanowicz, which is important because I have seen way too many Homestar Runner cartoons, and HR’s email address is

So anyways, I clearly had to get it. And then it took me forever to get through it because the very first thing they’ve got in there is the original 1818 version of Frankenstein. Tactical blunder. I mean, it’s pretty good—and Ethan was reading the later version at the same time, so it was fun to see what Shelley’s editors made her change—but man, that is not a short story. It is a long story. It is a novel.

This collection claimed to be a whole bunch of terrifying, gory short stories. What it actually is, is a whole bunch of over-the-top, gory-to-the-point-of-just-being-depressing, badly written first attempts from well-known authors who probably wish nobody remembered these particular stories. All of this sandwiched in between two classic novels. One of which was Frankenstein (which I don’t really care for, but I understand why it’s a classic), and the other of which was Sweeney Todd (which I absolutely loved, but I understand why people haven’t read it in forever. Plot holes, everywhere. No character development at all. Still a great ride.)

Don’t waste your time on this book. Read Frankenstein if you want, and read Sweeney Todd if you haven’t, but please for the love of every author who’s ever published something terrible just to make their next paycheck, don’t immortalize all this garbage in between. ♦

Stories from Puerto Rico

stories from puerto rico

Stories from Puerto Rico, by Robert Muckley (and a few other editors), is a good text for learning Spanish. It’s a bilingual collection of folk tales (from Puerto Rico, clearly.) They’re okay. Not super entertaining, but written at a basic enough level that I could understand most of it with my intermediate Spanish.

The real advantage to having the bilingual text, of course, is that when I have no idea what a sentence just said, I can jump over to the English page and figure out what I’m missing. If you’re learning Spanish (or English), it’s a great book to use. I wouldn’t recommend it just for kicks and giggles, though.

Me gustan los historias en este libro. El libro no es tanto grande, y las historias son cortos y fácil para leer. Yo aprendé más español de <<Historias de Puerto Rico.>> Peró necesito escribir más, claro.

Someone please correct my Spanish.♦

Stand a Little Taller; Standing for Something


Stand a Little Taller is a daily devotional collection from LDS Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, who was known for his wit, humor, and brilliant writing. And there’s really not much to say about it, to be honest. It’s a pretty good devotional book, taken mostly from the Bible and the Book of Mormon.


Standing for Something is a full-length book, also by Gordon B. Hinckley. This one is written more for members of other faiths (or no faith at all.) The subtitle is “10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes,” which pretty well describes his approach and organization. He discusses a few virtues that used to be more valued (like honesty,) and comes to their defense, explaining why improving our personal characters will improve our society at large.

It’s well written, and rather inspirational. Hinckley has a very strong optimism, and it’s infectious. I will admit, though, I think sometimes his optimism brought out the skeptic in me, especially when he talks about America’s glorious history. Don’t get me wrong; we’ve had some pretty great moments. But we’ve also had some embarrassing ones, and I’m not used to such one-sided praise of any society. So there were a few moments when he kind of lost me. But they usually weren’t about the main point, so I’ll still go ahead and recommend it. Overall, it gave me hope for the future. ♦