Thriftygal’s Book Reviews – February 2017

By | February 21, 2017

More book reviews! I’m sorry if you don’t care about the book reviews.

I read a bunch of Chetan Bhagat’s books while in Kuwait because that’s what my cousin had on her bookshelf. He’s a popular modern author in India. I get why people like him. His books are easy and quick reads populated with characters that feel real. Maybe some of the characters are real. I can’t tell.

Half Girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat

Guy from a lower class meets and falls in love with a rich girl. She loves him too, but after he pushes her too hard to sleep with him, she flees and marries a rich guy she’s known since childhood. They meet years later and she’s divorced and sick.

The author is a character in the book. That’s why I can’t tell if this story is real or not.

One Indian Girl by Chetan Bhagat

A beautiful and brilliant girl from New Delhi gets a job at an investment bank in New York. She meets a boy and falls in love. He’s insecure with her success and dumps her. It’s her first love so she’s understandably devastated. She copes by transferring to the Hong Kong office where she begins an affair with a married man. Realizing that it will never lead anywhere, she breaks it off and transfers to the London office.

Her mom has been badgering her for basically the entire book to get married, so she agrees to an arranged marriage. At the wedding both her exes show up and try to win her back. She chooses nobody (including the guy she’s supposed to marry) and I cheered. It was kind of like that episode of 90210 where Kelly chooses “herself” over Brandon and Dylan.

Cute, but unrealistic.

Revolution 2020 by Chetan Bhagat

Boy tries to make something of himself navigating the typical system of corruption in India. He also loves a girl. Girl loves (and is with) boy’s best friend who is smart and honest and trying to fight the corruption in India. Girl cheats on honest boy with our protagonist. I won’t tell you the ending.

Five point someone by Chetan Bhagat

A boy and his two college friends and their adventures in the most prestigious college in India. Five point someone refers to their grade point average. It’s out of ten, so it’s rubbish. Adventures abound.

The Old Man and his God by Sudha Murty

Short snapshots of different people the author has met throughout life. Some are wonderful people. Some are crap people. Tis life.

Why we get fat and what to do about it by Gary Taubes

Carbs basically.

Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe

The author was a live-in nanny in the early 80s in London. This book is a collection of her letters that she sent back home to her sister. I love the stories she recounts and the mundane details she brings alive. Here’s an example.

(MK is the mother of the kids she nannied.)

MK: (on phone) Have you nicked the Halliwell’s?
Me: No.
MK: The video card?
Me: No.
MK: What about the big stripey towel?
Me: No
MK: The one with the green, blue, and red stripes.
Me: No.
MK: I can see it, in your room, right now, hanging on a chair.
Me: (pause) OK, I’ve got the towel but not the rest.

Fast and fun read. Loved it.
On Writing by Stephen King

Oh man. I haven’t read much of Stephen King to be honest. But this book! This book! I just want to take it to bed and learn all its secrets. I’ll tell it all mine too. It’s a fabulous treatise on writing and I wish I had read it years ago. My only sadness came when he told me not to watch television and mentioned Judge Judy by name! Sniffle.

Best of all, he basically gave me permission to read as much as my heart desires and write everyday for the fun of it. Not that I needed his permission, but I appreciate it.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

I read this in the dentist’s office. Super short book, but kind of a painful one to read. He gives spacey, new agey, vague advice….that I found myself thinking about after I read it. The only thing that matters is NOW. This moment. Keep reminding yourself of that.

“Knowing that what is cannot be undone — because it already is — you say yes to what is or accept what isn’t. Then you do what you have to do, whatever the situation requires.”


“…a stoic philosopher in Greece who, when he was told that his son had died in an accident, replied ‘I knew that he was not immortal.'”

Love those stoics!

$2.00 a day by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer

Great book on the realities of poverty through stories of real people. The working poor are trying. They want to work. The problem is it’s really hard to get a full time job making minimum wage and it’s impossible to live on part-time minimum wages. Most people try working two part-time jobs, but logistically that’s hard to coordinate with two demanding employers requiring flexible schedules. They’re also not getting benefits or overtime, even though they’re constantly working.

Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc.—How the Working Poor Became Big Business by Gary Rivlin

Industries the poor utilize often lead them into financial ruin because of their predatory practices. Payday loans, car title loans, subprime mortgages, check cashers, pawn shops and their exorbitant interest rates suck whatever they can out of those in poverty. The prepayment penalties made me shudder.

It’s also a story of the organizations trying to help the poor by loaning them money at reasonable rates and trying to get the legislative branch to care and regulate.

The problem is a combination of financial illiteracy and outright fraud against people who can least afford it. Kind of a bummer of a read. Books about poverty are almost always bummers to read. I can’t think of any that I’ve read that weren’t.

22 thoughts on “Thriftygal’s Book Reviews – February 2017

      1. Rebekah

        Just stopping by to say that I love the book reviews as well! For books on poverty, I’d go to Jonathan Kozol – either “Savage Inequalities” or “Amazing Grace.” The book “Hillbilly Elegy” also just popped up on my radar, but I have not read that one yet.

  1. tt

    a good quick read; a little dated.

    “Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream.”

  2. Ramana

    Thanks for the suggestions. $2.00 a day reminded me of the Netflix documentary “Living on one dollar”.The journey of 2 people who lived in Guatemala for 2 months on dollar a day.
    Recently read Anu Vaidyanathan’s(India’s first triathlete) book – Anywhere but home.
    Keep it coming.!!

  3. tt

    re: when things fall apart by Pema Chodron


    “We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect. But from the point of view of someone who is awake, that’s death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self-contained and comfortable, is some kind of death. It doesn’t have any fresh air.

    There’s no room for something to come in and interrupt all that. We are killing the moment by controlling our experience. Doing this is setting ourselves up for failure, because sooner or later, we’re going to have an experience we can’t control.”


    “People have no respect for impermanence. We take no delight in it; in fact, we despair of it. We regard it as pain. We try to resist it by making things that will last—forever, we say—things that we don’t have to wash, things that we don’t have to iron.

    Somehow, in the process of trying to deny that things are always changing, we lose our sense of sacredness of life. We tend to forget that we are part of the natural scheme of things.”

  4. Mc

    Love the list! Check out ‘1000 rupee note’ on Netflix – it’s a movie about poverty in India. I think you’ll like it.

  5. Bob Kuyper

    Hillbilly Elergy? Great book on the financial traps people find themselves in and why the lower class stays poor.


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