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What are Folks Reading?

edited June 2020 in Off-Topic
This morning I dropped the FT. Good paper but not enough time. All of the listed below are delivered to a new 10” Amazon Fire. Best device I’ve ever had for reading.

Still retain:

- NYT (Daily)

- Barron’s (Weekly)

- Science News (Biweekly)

- New Scientist (Weekly). Geez. So much to choose from. So little time.

Re Barron’s . Highly impressed with the wit and breadth of coverage. Depends what you’re looking for. Inserted a couple one-liners from this week’s edition into @Junkster’s “Market Overpriced” thread. Randall Forsyth has done a good job stepping into famed Alan Ableson’s shoes. Has gotten better with time.

- Also subscribe to Bill Fleckenstein’s daily market summary. If you want to hear the “bearish” side of the equation, there’s none better at present IMHO.

- One Novel: Omitted earlier, since 90% of my reading is NF. But for a year I’ve been listening off & on to John Green’s Turtles All The Way Down. Little plot here. Follows one summer in the life of an older teen girl suffering from OCD and told from her point of view. If you or anyone you know has experienced OCD it’s an enlightening read. Very well written. Captivating and engaging.

- Watched a decent new film, Shirley, purportedly based on the life of Shirley Jackson, author of “The Lottery” (1948) - a classic short story about a very “civilized” small town which once a year chooses a resident to stone to death (nice people).


  • Parting the Watersby Taylor Branch, Master of the Senate by Robert Caro, and Bellevue by David Oshinsky
  • Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s - “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation”

    Paul Butler’s book “Chokehold” is an excellent exploration of police violence against black men — past and present.

    Delia Owens - "Where the Crawdads Sing"

    Science, Rolling Stone, National Geographic (US & Australian versions), American Journal of Botany, Botany, and Natural History periodicals.

    AAII Journal, NYT & WaPo, and a number of financial blogs.
  • Art
    edited June 2020
    David Baldacci - Amos Decker Series and the Whole Truth.

    Westerns including L'Amour and others.

    Robert B. Parker and the Spenser series.

    Dean Koontz the Jane Hawk Series. (Plot to take over the USA ).

    Nothing serious, just retired as pandemic hit.
  • edited June 2020
    -Sorkin, "Too Big To Fail."
    -Rucker/Leonnig: "A Very Stable Genius."
    Frightful. But I could see all of this coming, with the election-by-minority-vote-Trumpster. Utterly clueless. Totally dangerous. And, as Tillerson confided to some aides after a meeting in "The Bunker" that was intended to educate the "president" about geography and politics: "He's a fucking moron."

    Next: "Maps of Meaning," Jordan Peterson.
    We have political differences, but otherwise, this man is absolutely brilliant. A born teacher, fabulous lecturer. I'm up to number 8 out of 10 in his Series called "Psychological Implication of Biblical Stories." FREE on YouTube. You don't need to be a religious believer to learn a great deal from this guy. Stunningly insightful. ..... Sadly, he's lately had medical issues, and his wife, too. He was given anti-anxiety pills after learning that his wife apparently had terminal cancer. He tried to stop taking them, cold-turkey. It didn't work. So he sought treatment in both Canada and USA. Didn't work. He went to MOSCOW, where they offered a treatment that Western doctors just will not do: he was deliberately put into a coma, and not given the drug for 9 days. The latest update (from his daughter) was back in February. She said he's on the mend, found his sense of humor again... But for 2019 and 2020, he has been out of the public eye. And his wife will live!
  • Hey Hank!
    I see a hard copy of Barron’s most weeks - it has a lot of good stuff. I agree on Forsyth, I have also seen his stuff on Apple News and linked it here.
    I agree I don’t have enough time to read all I want - but that causes me to spend way too much time looking for what to read rather than just diving in. The too many choices syndrome. My starting points are primarily here at MFO & Barry Ritholtz daily email & Apple News. (I appreciate the links MFO folk provide! (I’m looking at you Bee)). I just found out I have access to the WSJ through my library’s website and am trying to make a point to read their headlines and the “Evergreen/middle column article” daily if possible.

    For books, I just finished The Bogleheads’ guide - it’s a bit simplistic. I recently reread Bill Bernstein’s Four Pillars - that is a great investment book, well worth the time.

    Podcasts - I don’t commute so I don’t get to spend much time with podcasts, I need to do better at listening to Barry Ritholtz‘s Masters in Business & Econtalk each week.
  • Hmmm ...

    The Book of General Ignorance, volumes 1, 2 and 3. One and Two are in hardcover, I'm cheating by reading Three (out of order) on Kindle.

    The Invisible Library series of novels. I've just finished five. Dragons, fae and interdimensional book-stealing / peace-preserving librarians. I'm endlessly amused by the attitude toward life and people (slightly pained and skeptical, still determined to make it work) of Irene, the lead character.

    Having trouble reading much "real" stuff just now. Spending rather a lot of time walking and listening to podcasts. Make Me Smart and Marketplace are the best for keeping it real. Mobituary, by Mo Rocca, is entirely engaging social history; he's recently chronicled the death of the station wagon and the mid60s purge of all of the country-oriented shows (from The Beverly Hillbillies to Hee-Haw). A Way With Words, which focuses on "words and how we use them," is amiable with one really interesting piece (the name "George" derives from the Greek words for "earth" and "worker," hence it was a common name for farmers) per episode.

  • edited June 2020
    Great to see that someone other than me in certain liberal circles is a fan of JP. IMO, he's been wildly misunderstood (and misappropriated), but I think he's as close to a practical philosophical genius as is currently on the scene. Love listening to him, just the same as I love listening to Noam Chomsky (long may he live) and the late great Christopher Hitchens, not to mention (RIP) Bill Buckley. Might not agree with everything they say but I certainly get immense pleasure out of how they say it.

    Latest book read: Reflexion, by Lynette Fromme, better known to most people as Squeaky, about life with Manson before the murders and her pulling a gun on Gerald Ford. Pretty damn lyrical piece of writing, at times, and it makes you like her a lot, despite all the misgivings you might have. Very sad, too, though not for the obvious reasons, the most obvious of which is that she's still a Charlie believer. Anyway, before things went sour and worse than sour, what a great time the 60s could be. Fun fact: she was a child performer who appeared with her dance troupe on the Lawrence Welk Show and at the White House.

    Latest book I've refused to reread for the past 40 years: 92 in the Shade by Thomas McGuane. When I last opened it all those decades ago and drifted through the first few pages, I immediately slammed the thing shut. His way around words is so masterful and so cunning that it makes you never want to type another word yourself. Why bother? I have three first editions of the book. Damn them all!
  • edited June 2020
    As part of not letting Netflix takeover my life, I have just finished The Underground Railroad and The Nickle Boys, by Colson Whitehead. Both have given me a new appreciation of the varied, ugly forms of racism and oppression blacks have had to endure in the US.

    Tonight I start Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance. On my list is The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millenium, by Martin Gurri.

    I have skipped around bits and pieces of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, but (having lived through 2001 and 2008) I found it all to predictable and sameish. People really are hype-driven machines so much of the time, that much as changed ("...the scope of human folly has not changed, only the details..."). I do want to review the oft-cited chapter on the Tulip bubble.

    I do not play a musical instrument, but have bookmarked a couple of features from Strings magazine on the manufacture of musical instruments. I am a huge fan of the violin and string ensembles.

    I am also a huge fan of the Econtalk podcast series, and often listen to that while I take an after hours walk (in lieu of an audio book; although generally the guests are discussing a new book; that is how I learned of Gurri's book cited above).

    I am a regular user of the Thomson-Reuters app, and am toying with a subscription to Foreign Affairs and one day hope to resume reading on Bayesian statistics and methods for semiparametric data analysis. The latter two items require a kind of headspace I just don't have at the end of the day right now.
  • MFO, of course
    WaPo, NYT, WSJ
    various professional blogs/sites related to my discipline

    Books? I have 2 related to the Snowden affair on my coffee table, plus 1 on how engineers make internet social media addictive to users. I just finished Amarylis Fox's book about her time as a CIA clandestine officer which was quite good, too.

  • Recent titles included "The Trial" of Kafka and "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis. Both afforded laughter and a sense that many things in our lives are completely out of our control. My recreational reading runs to crime fiction and espionage, frequently Scandinavian. I liked "A Nearly Normal Family" by MT Evardsson.

    My news reading is very similar to @rforno with the addition of the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. @Pat_F mentioned Robert Caro on LBJ. I bought all four volumes on EBay and read them all in the last couple of years. Hope that Caro can finish volume 5 and get it out. In Volume 4, there is a very revealing event about Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam war. Just a couple of days after becoming president in November 1963, LBJ covered up some bad news from US "advisors" then on the ground in Saigon because he was afraid that revealing it would hamper his election effort for 1964. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
  • Just finished a book written by an old friend that I have lost touch with over the years: "Flying Angel: Vanuatu, the Happiest Country You Never Heard of !" by Nelleke Meuzelaar . It's short but inspiring.
  • Do the Vanuatu tower divers make an appearance?
  • No, at least I don't recall anything about that.
  • "Grant" by Ron Chernow. We watched the docuseries on History Channel a few weeks ago. It was excellent, as is the book.
  • Wow I am going to have to print this out and go over it line by line to see what I missed

    1) Financial publications Barrons A shadow of its former self after the Murdoch took over but still the best around ( this just means that everybody else has gotten worse)

    2) Reliable right wing nut jobs in the opinion pieces but still some tidbits in the newspaper. I especially recommend The Daily Shot, a daily email with hundreds of graphs and data on economics and stocks. This alone worth cost of subscription and why despite awful opinions I remain a subscriber.

    3) NYT and WashPO to inoculation against the WSJ hate but hopefully the WSJ will inoculate me against the "1619" crowd.

    4) Books Atkinson's "The British are coming". even a page or two will convince you that we have no problems that compare to the patriots of 1776. No one who reads this book will ever believe that the colonies went to war to preserve slavery, given the suffering death and destruction the Revolution cost us.

    5) Splendid and the Vile How Churchill beat Hitler in short easy to read at lunch segments with loads of human interest.

    6) Samuel Johnson by Bates. This man born a scrofulous impoverished infant remains the premier English stylist social critic and literary impressionist compared to only Shakespeare himself. He believed biography was the finest form of literature because it showed great people's weaknesses as well as their strengths

  • edited June 2020
    Haven't read much substantive since I finished two massive collections of Ursula Le Guin's novellas and short stories.

    I find Arts and Letters Daily to be worthwhile grazing. I hope to get a subscription to the Atlantic for Father's Day. And there are always old collections of New York Times x-word puzzles. I don't know the new cultural references, and I forgot the ones that were happening when I was paying attention.

    I have been working my way through the cookbooks of Penelope Casas. The food works well for the Arizona heat.

    And I have three memoirs that I bought before things blew up. Days on the Road Crossing the Plains in 1865 by Sarah Raymond Herndon, A Lady's Life in The Rocky Mountains by Isabella L. Bird, and Vanished Arizona Recollections of My Army Life, by Martha Summerhayes.

    Without really setting out to, I have become a collector of women's memoirs of the American frontier experience.

    I have some of the men too. Two that I would recommend are Cowboy Detective, by Charlie Siringo and Wah-to-yah and the Taos Trail by Lewis H. Garrard.

    If you have read this far . . . You might want to try and find The Market Place Reminiscences of a Financial Editor by Alexander Dana Noyes. The guy covered everything from the Long Depression to the Great Depression.
  • edited June 2020
    @sma3 - To each his own. I’ve been reading Barron’s (admittedly off and on) for 50 years - probably longer than many here have been around. Hard to compare, but I still find it current and loaded with stimulating news, interviews, financially relevant opinion. What I suspect here is that the once voluminous stock / fund charts, statistics, performance histories, etc. have disappeared or been watered down. Many lament that change. Those were never something I particularly needed. The internet has all but eliminated the need for those long copy-intensive sections. Others have said, “No actionable advice”. Likely correct. Barron’s doesn’t present itself as an investment advisor. In fact, one needs be careful following whatever investment advice is contained because it’s usually intended to represent just one view out of many.

    The WSJ was long a favorite of mine (again - going back 50 years), but I’ve been pretty much priced out in recent years. What I hated about it when Audible was sending me a few free “selected” WSJ stories every day (more recently) is that of 6 or 7 stories received, 1 or 2 would be complete right-wing garbage. I had to phone Audible’s customer service and beg them to stop sending me such worthless data-consuming trash. So, I think you may be correct in your assessment of the WSJ. Since I don’t subscribe, I don’t really know. But I’m not seeing the wingnut stuff in my Kindle based Barron’s subscription. (Maybe Bezos Is editing it out?)

    Thanks for your thoughts.
  • Thanks for starting this lively topic @hank. I am really pleased to hear of others’ tastes and to get ideas for my own reading. As the parent of five kids, the youngest of whom is 22, I lament how little they seem to read, despite our practically forcing books on them over the years. I’m so glad to be in the good company of serious readers on MFO. My mother read a great deal and instilled in me an appreciation for The NY Times, a great gift that I cherish.
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