Notable Books I Read in 2007

I have been devouring books lately, thanks to the new arrivals shelf at the Estes Park Public Library.  I decided to share my list, not only to stroke my ego but also because several of these books were absolute gems that should go onto everyone’s to-read list.  Without further ado:

Some Books I Read in 2007:

A Random Walk Down Wall Street (7th ed) by Burton Malkiel

If you read one book off this list, read this one.  Malkiel does a masterful job of explaining investment strategy in simple and interesting terms.  I honestly believe that by reading this book, you stand to save tens of thousands of dollars over the course of your lifetime, as well as avoid the investment pitfalls that many Americans suffer though year after year.  Read this book, highly highly recommended.

Unconventional Success by David Swenson

Don’t read this one unless you are a hardcore Random Walk junkie.  Swenson takes the same stance as Burton Malkiel, but in a dramatically more technical fashion.  A hard read, but worthwhile if you are interested in learning more about proper portfolio management.  Recommended for the hardcore passive investor.

Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse by Peter D. Schiff and John Downes

I thought this book was pretty interesting, despite the shameless plug for the authors’ business at the end.  The gist: the American economy is going to fail for many reasons, so move your assets into gold and foreign stocks.  I think the message has some truth in it, but is a little extreme.  For young people, I am advocating 40% in foreign stocks (and 5-10% in commodities including gold).  America is still the world’s largest economy, and will be very significant even if it fails catastrophically.  Not recommended, unless you are bored.

I Am America (and so can you!) by Stephen Colbert

I really thought I would like this book.  I did not.  It had some merits, including a drippingly sarcastic chapter on religion, but overall was little more than a mild diversion from the day-to-day.  I expected more from this comedic genious.  Oh well.  Not recommended.

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Now here is a fantastic text.  Whether you are a devout Christian, an apathetic loser, or a born-again atheist, I heartily recommend this treatise on the faults of religion.  I hope that for most, this book gives you the courage to embrace your inner atheist.  If you read it cover to cover and are still devout, I trust that your faith is unshakeable.  A note:  I think this book may be best read after completing C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.   Highly, highly recommended.

God Is Not Great by Christopher Hutchins

This text relates to the previous as Unconventional Success does to A Random Walk.  Hutchins explores many of the same themes as does Dawkins, but in a more sophisticated prose that demands interest and attention from the reader.  I think that for the average atheist, The God Delusion will satisfy your theological needs…but Hutchins provides additional fuel for the fire if you find yourself seeking more.  Recommended for the hardcore atheist or anyone desperately needing to escape their religion.

Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash by Elizabeth Royte

A thoroughly disgusting voyage through our waste management system.  Eye-opening and informative, I very much enjoyed this fun book.  Despite exposing the tremendous amount of waste produced by American society, the discussion on recycling and landfill mining gave me some hope for the future of the earth.  Recommended.

Sick! by Jonathon Kohen

An expose of the failing American healthcare system.  I wish my dad would read this one.  The book was mostly stories from unfortunate individuals in poor health, and illustrates some of the major faults in the healthcare system but to my recollection was short on answers.  My answer?  Take our an inexpensive catastrophic health plan, then invest the maximum annual contribution in a Health Savings Account.  Lightly recommended.

Sugarcane Academy: How a New Orleans Teacher and His Storm-Struck Students Created a School to Remember by Michael Tisserand

This was a one-sitting read, on the plane.  Interesting feel-good story, but I wasn’t really moved by it.  Not really recommended.

Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders by James D. Scurlock

You think you have financial troubles?  Don’t worry, so does everyone else.  (But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do something about it!) And the combined weight of the problems is potentially devastating.  This book takes a hard look at the credit woes of middle America, and it particularly pertinent now during the height of the global credit crisis.  Recommended.

Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof, and Lethal: The Hidden Dangers of C8 by Callie Lyons

Confession: I didn’t actually finish this one.  But I read enough to get the gist.  Teflon is deadly.  It will kill you, and give your babies all sorts of terrible birth defects.  Especially if you live on top of a large dump of teflon-manufacturoring byproducts.  Stainless all the way.  Don’t bother reading the book, just ditch the non-stick.  Not highly recommended.

Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer by Lynne Cox

Last but not least, this book redefined my idea of what the human body is capable of.  I cannot shiver any longer without thinking about Lynne Cox swimming in the coldest oceans in the world, clad in nothing but a normal lycra bathing suit.  Recommended.
In addition to the preceding list, there are a few books that are high on my To Read list:

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis – Counterpoint to my atheist literature binge.
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer – crazy Mormons.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson – a sci-fi distraction; I was inspired by the release of the new film.
Good to Great by Jim Collins – now reading.  I hope this one enlightens me as to how to make our fortunes in the free market.

So, what have you all read lately?

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