Book Reviews – October 2017

By | October 16, 2017

Reading is everything.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

After reading the magnificent book Tiny Beautiful Things, I’ve fallen in love with Cheryl Strayed. Wild is the book she wrote after the death of her mother and the end of her marriage. She walks the Pacific Coast Trail and tries to heal. Her voice is so achingly lovely and eloquent.

When the worse thing that can happen to you does happen, there’s nothing left to fear. The world can’t take anything else from you. There’s comfort in that horrible reality.

I could write several posts with just the bits that stuck with me, but here’s one of the best. She’s describing how it felt to lie down on a bed after taking a shower.

I felt better than I’d ever felt in all of my life, now that the trail had taught me how horrible I could feel.

You can appreciate the highs and the mundane mediums when you know the lows. You can appreciate the comforts we only recently created for humanity when you realize the struggles.

Brave enough by Cheryl Strayed

Not really a book, but rather a collection of quotes. Here are the ones that spoke to me.

When you feel like crap because someone has gotten something you want, you force yourself to remember how very much you have been given. You remember that there is plenty for all of us. You remember that someone else’s success has no bearing on your own. You remember that a wonderful thing has happened to someone else and maybe, if you keep working and if you get lucky, something wonderful may also someday happen to you.

The people who don’t give up are the people who find a way to believe in abundance rather than scarcity. They’ve taken into their hearts the idea that there is enough for all of us, that success will manifest itself in different ways for different people, that keeping the faith is more important than cashing the check.

I’m guilty of being jealous of people. That’s a terrible quality and does nothing except make my world worse.

You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.

There are so many things to be tortured about. So many tortuous things in this life. Don’t let someone who doesn’t love you be one of them.

I’m guilty of pining over someone who doesn’t give a shit about me. What a waste of energy and brain cells.

Cultivate an understanding that life is long, that people both change and remain the same, that every last one of us will need to fuck up and be forgiven, that we’re all just walking and walking and walking and trying to find our way, that all roads lead eventually to the mountaintop.

Something is always at stake. Our integrity. Our serenity. Our relationships. Our communities. Our children. Our ability to bear the weight of the people we hope to be and to forgive the people we are.

I’m guilty of fucking up, of not being the person I want to be. We’re all human. We’re all trying to do the very best we can. Most of us are anyway.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

A novel about some crazy rich Chinese people living in Singapore. The story was interesting enough, exploring the problems of billionaires. When you have a lot of money, how can you ever be sure that people like you because of you or because of what you can do for them? It’s hard to relate to the unwashed masses, much less find love with a commoner. Fluffy, but not bad.

I made a friend in L.A. recently who is quite wealthy and he talked about this, that people are always asking him for things. Not asking for things, insisting on paying your own way, is an easy way to stand out.

Operation Enough by Anita Dhake

And the author is cute. 😉

This is a self-help book on personal finance. The author’s voice is entertaining, chatty and often downright hilarious. I found the content kind of common sense, but I think I’m just sick of the subject of personal finance. I still highly recommend it! If you only buy one book this year, make it this one.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The title spoke to me as I’m a big fan of “The Power of” stuff as you can tell from my website and publishing company.

Your habits make up you. That’s the power of habit. After you choose who you want to be and make it instinctual, you become who you want. I don’t think about my spending at all because I’m in the habit of not buying crap I don’t need. That’s why it was easy for me to retire.

There’s a lot of practical advice in here. Predict the obstacles you’ll face and plan for them. Imagine yourself overcoming them. Belief is the most important part. When something becomes habit, you don’t have to waste your precious willpower on it. The stoics believe that willpower is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. But the author thinks willpower is like a muscle. It gets tired as it works, so it’s harder to use the more you use it. I guess both things can be true.

20 thoughts on “Book Reviews – October 2017

  1. Suzanne

    Based on your book reviews this month, I think you might like Gretchen Rubin. Have you read any of her work before? I read your blog regularly, but can’t recall whether you’ve posted a review of one of her books. She’s also a recovering lawyer and generally writes about habits and personality. If you’re looking for book recommendations, you might check out her books.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I’ve been reading Gretchen’s blog for years and have read all her habit and happiness-related books. I love her! I mention The Happiness Project in my book. 🙂

      I love the suggestion!! If anyone has any other suggestions like this, I’m all ears.

  2. Giovanni

    I also loved Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and Brave Enough, Power of Habit also- The realization I got from Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems (all in a weekend… and found where Tyersall House was in Singapore too!) was the sheer numbers, thousands and thousands of millionaires in China. They will have a large effect in the world’s economy and I don’t think may Westerners have any idea.

  3. walter

    who says you’re not good at self-promotion? fair and balanced book review!

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Yes, but I’m only pitching to the people who I’ve already pitched to! If you read my blog, you’re well aware of my book. 🙂

  4. herman

    Operation Enough by you know who is a must read book. This is especially true for recent undergraduates or for those who chose to learn a trade after high school. There were some parallels with my life in terms of profession progression, but the author’s beginning salary exceeded mine. Real estate did work for me. I should have bought more. Ditto for stocks. The only disappointment for me: the dog was not in the book. My author for you to explore is Jim Rogers. Start with “A Gift to My Children” and “Adventure Capitalist”.

  5. steve poling

    my daughter is married to a straights-Chinese dude. found the book, Crazy Rich Asians, in a Tokyo airport and when she read it was “yeah, that’s what Singapore is like.” the sequel is good, but not as fresh as the first, but left a few strings dangling for (i hope) a sequel to wrap up the trilogy

    1. steve poling

      oops, I didn’t know Rich People Problems was out. Now I got some reading to do.

    2. Thriftygal Post author

      Ooh, I didn’t realize that all of these books were about the same people, that it was a trilogy. Dammit, I might have to check them out now.

  6. Chris N

    Thank you for the reviews, as always! I think I have unfairly overlooked Cheryl Strayed’s books as being more geared to women, but it looks like they are more universal. I also get the sense this stuff only starts to make sense as you make your own mistakes and learn to live with the results!

    “There are so many things to be tortured about…. Don’t let someone who doesn’t love you be one of them.”

    After love, I would add the phrase “and respect”. They do not always occur in proportionate quantities in relationships, and a lack of the latter, while not always apparent from the get-go, will lead to the destruction of the former.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I totally agree that it’s nearly impossible to understand some advice and platitudes until you’ve gone through it yourself. And thanks for appreciating the reviews. I never know what appeals to people when I write, so the feedback is valuable.

  7. classical_liberal

    Regarding “The Power of Habit”, limited resource pool for will power is known as Ego Depletion theory. It was based on research by Roy Baumeister in the 1990’s (I think).

    The original research conclusions were repeatable, however, it was later found that there were fundamental flaws in all of the studies. ie they all used a form of withholding something which, in itself, was known to decrease cognitive function as the test for “will power”. There is more recent work (2010’s) , including a large scale attempt to repeat the research in dozens of differing ways with the original research flaws extracted. The more recent studies have all clearly disproved the Ego Depletion model. The stoics were correct after all? TBD


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