Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Stieg Larsson

This is actually my second time starting this book, the first time I got probably 1/3 of the way through and for some reason the names were getting jumbled and I couldn't keep the characters straight and the book was difficult to read. This time I found it to be a fascinating novel, though heavy on the sadists...lol The novel opens with Lisbeth, who is thought to be mentally handicapped, getting a remedial job at a detective agency doing cleaning, copying, and various tasks. Her past is hinted at, but we know it must be worse than described because she is insistent people shouldn't be pitied for not rising above their upbringing. Her boss decides to fire her because she doesn't get along with his staff and never talks. When he sits down to talk to her she matter of factly states what his staff is doing instead of working and that she has been doing their tasks. He decides to try her out as a detective. She does an astonishingly thorough job and we learn she is a skilled hacker. She is hired to investigate a journalist, who was being imprisoned for Liable. The other half of the story deals with the journalist, Blomkvist, who wrote an article about a ganster billionaire, Wennerström, but part of the story was fictional as his source was a henchman. Right before going to his 3 month prision sentence, Henrik Vanger, a wealthy CEO hires Blomkvist to investigate the 40 year old murder of his niece Harriet. Vanger decided to hire Blomkvist based on the report from Lisbeth. The cover story is that Blomkvist is writing a Biography for Vanger. Meanwhile Lisbeth's guardian dies and she is awarded a new one who rapes her. She gets it on tape and after branding him with a full chest tattoo, shows the tape and threatens him unless he stays out of her life. Blomkvist learns of Lisbeth's report on him and wants her to help with his investigation. We learn she has a photographic memory. Much to everyone's surprise Blomkvist and Lisbeth solve the crime and uncover murders tracing the last 60 years done by Harriet's father, and then continued by her brother after she killed her father. They find Harriet still alive in Australia as a successful business woman. Blomkvist publishes a book exposing Wennerström's crimes, redeeming his reputation. Later Wennerstrom is arrested and apparently an unknown woman (Lizbeth) went to the bank and walked out with some of his fortune.

Defiance: Defiance; The Bielski Partisans: Nechama Tec

This was a fascinating book about Jewish resistance fighters during WWII. The Polish Bielski brothers, gathered a group of resistance fighters and hid in the forest for two years during WWII. Unlike other bands of fighters, this group accepted everyone, woman, elderly, and children and were focused on the survival of the Jewish people over killing Nazis. The book spent a lot of time talking about each person and how they were remembered and what each person contributed. It was very much both a novel about the remarkable will to survive and remarkable people. After the war the brothers who started the resistance group moved to Israel and the United States where they lived very ordinary lives. The author wrote this book to recognize what this group accomplished, but unfortunately he was only able to meet with Tuvia for a short time before he passed away. The Brothers were accused of war crimes associated with the Naliboki massacre, where over 100 people were massacred by Soviets, who supported the Resistance fighters. I was disheartened by the treatment the farmers were given from the fighters, they were constantly raided by the resistance and were expected to give a bulk of their product to the war effort, life for them seemed horrible too with violence from both sides.

The Millionaire Next Door:Thomas J. Stanley

Though this book was published 20 Years ago, it still holds valuable advice. The book was centered around interviews and questionnaires filled out by people who had a net worth of at least a million dollars. Surprisingly the authors had to offer money to interest the people enough to spend time being assessed. The book divided millionaires into categories of UAWs (Under Accumulators of Wealth) and PAWs (Prodigious Accumulator of Wealth) and compared their behavior. The statistics interested me, most millionaires are business owners and out of the immigrants most are Russian. Most own conservative vehicles and the F150 is a popular choice. I liked the detail added about what happens when the money dries up or the children of UAW millionaires try to make it on their own, having become accustomed to a standard of living they cannot support. This book also talks about how expensive gift giving can do more harm than good. It talked about millionaire grandparents paying for private school or trips abroad. Putting the grandchildren in those settings where they are exposed to UAWs in turn makes them want to become consumers of expensive things and they live their lives trying to keep up with the Jones'. The advice in this book was to; spend less than you earn, avoid worrying about status- most PAWs are continuously thrifty, don't believe money is a renewable resource and save for the future. The book also provided a calculator on how to determine an "Average Accumulator of Wealth" (AAW), who has a net worth equal to one-tenth their age multiplied by their current annual income from all sources. I do see a lot of people in my generation as being UAWs, they live above their means with expensive cars, vacations, and homes and think nothing of being in debt. This book really made me wonder what the next 30 years will bring when people don't have money to retire on, will the millionaires be expected to take care of everyone else?