Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Few Things I've Been Reading-Fiction, Science Fiction, On Retirement and More!!

One of the up sides of a few very rainy spring weeks is the extra time to read. Less yard work, grilling, walking and other outdoor activities leaves more time for other things, and one of them in this house is reading. Normally I would add extra time spent in theaters, but for some reason the movie bug has not hit me, although I have discovered more than a few new shows on Netflix and Amazon (which I'll share another time).

Two of the recently read books are not of my usual genre choice. One was chosen because it will be an up coming film and another was recommended by various blogs. One was an obligatory "frugal retirement" read, and one was, as more than often happens, mindless casual fiction.

The Martian is not my usual type of fiction reading. While I have read sci-fi in the past, I rarely read it this days. However, in looking ahead to coming films, this will be a movie with Matt Damon and Sean Bean (among others), so I downloaded it on a whim.  Folks, I am here to tell you I read this in a single day and night (with breaks), from ten am until about three am. Every so often I would go "eww" (at it's heart this is a book about castaway survival, after all), but did not leave it until the end. I highly, highly recommend this one. And for movie buffs, assuming that the book follow the film, this is actually a movie where Sean Bean will, well, not die! 

I confess that I have not finished reading Shopcraft as Soulcraft, but am impressed so far. A slightly older book (written in 2010), this book is a treatise on the value of skilled work and a critique of separating it from what the author calls "knowledge work".  The author bases this book on the theory that American society spends too much time separating thinking from doing, and too much time and effort valuing one higher than the other. I first read about this book on the MMM blog, and have enjoyed it although I have not finished it.  As a person who considers herself an artisan, and as a parent of a kid who is highly intelligent but outright eschews working in an office or at a while collar job,  I uniquely appreciate this perspective. While common wisdom says my bright kid needs a four year plus education (has has two associate degrees), this kid who is so much smarter than any Jeopardy finalist prefers working with his hands, landscaping, fixing things, and is more than happy to work in those professions and drive an Uber car-and it works for him. One of the better books on topics like this I've read in a while.

Gathering Prey is more along the lines of my tradition reading-police procedural and mysteries. I tend to inhale books by John Sanford, Robert Crais, Michael Connely and the like, as fast as I can, one after the other. This is the 25th book in this series.  In this book, Davenport's college age daughter befriends a homeless runaway who then disappears. Lucas Davenport agrees to check on the girl, expecting a simple case of runaways and drugs. What he finds is a scary, cult like underground traveling group-that knows no bounds or limits. For regular readers of this series I will say no more, except that I liked this one much better than the previous novel. While I can appreciate a dad wanting to help a daughter, and even a daughter secretly following her dad because she was worried about her friend, I found the previous book very unrealistic in terms of a teenager's participation in a police investigation.  I'll say no more! 

Retired Broke, How to Fix Your Retirement was my obligatory monthly foray into the work of retirement and frugal retirement books. Overall I enjoyed this book, and in theory I could have written a blog post on this book alone. The authors of this book speak from personal experience, having retired early with not enough savings, and having seen medical bills and other things eat through that minimal savings.  Although the authors specify four ways to fix a broken retirement (increase savings, be aggressive with investments, decrease your expenses, and earn money) they concentrate primarily on the latter two-money saving and money earning if you will. As such, the meat of this small book  is divided into three parts: assessing your current situation, finding ways to reduce overhead, and ways to bring in income (from investment to jobs to businesses).

While many of the solutions in this book seem obvious to some, they were presented succinctly (in 90 pages), and without guilt. For example, while the authors agree that many do not save enough for retirement, and many spend less than wisely, the Kirks also acknowledge that medical bills (they faced an 18% increase yearly prior to the ACA), lowered wages, inflation and forced early retirement also contribute to the retirement savings crises. They also suggest the massive discrimination in the workplace that makes it easier said than done when it comes to holding off retirement and retirement spending until later in life.

 Finally, the book ends with some examples of solutions-one for a family with 100 thousand in savings and a forty thousand annual income and one with an income close to the poverty line. Both case studies include real life solutions and out of the box thinking. This frugal retiree found little that was "new" as such. That said, I am always happy to see positive books about retirement alternatives. I would encourage anyone who is worried about their retirement (at any age or at any retirement state) to read this-it's certainly a good addition to the list of books for those in or close to retirement and wondering how they will manage.

And there you have it, my reading for the last couple of weeks. My upcoming reading consists of more fiction and light non fiction reading. I am reading The Nightingale for my book group, and will suggest The Boys In The Boat for next month. Add to that three new mysteries, a book on refashioning clothing (pictures soon), a book on natural diabetes treatments and a book on small family style canning and my proverbial reading stack keeps piling up!

Next up-my daughter makes an offer on the first house she sees (with good reason) and I plan my fall vacations!


  1. I have added the John Sandford book to my wish list. Love me a good mystery.

    God bless.

  2. A great reading list. I read The Martian and liked it a lot, altho' I didn't understand a lot of the math. I'll look for the movie. Should be good. I've also read several of the Prey books; not this one though. Will put it on my list. I am currently reading The Boys in the Boat, about the Washington rowers who go to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. It's well-written and interesting, but a little repetitive as the author describes race after race. Still, I too would recommend.

    1. Good to know,the Boys in the Boat is one of our considerations (of four) for July's reading. Yea, I did not understand some of the science and math, and I was going yuck yuck during the fertilization discussions but I still loved the book.

  3. Such an amazing list.The Martian is—and I mean this in the best way conceivable—the most riveting math issue you'll ever read.Mark Watney needs to figure out how to make food,oxygen, and water, and Weir's science as he portrays how Watney fulfills those deeds is meticulous.Thank you.

  4. Get daily ideas and guides for making $1,000s per day FROM HOME for FREE.


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