The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Current Readings Edition

Every few months, to fulfill the requests of a vocal group of readers, I list the four or five books I’ve read most recently (besides the ones directly for The Simple Dollar), along with my brief thoughts on them. Here we go…

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson is the book I’m currently reading (in fact, I’m just starting it) as a prelude to tackling Stephenson’s “Baroque Cycle” trilogy. I’ve read this one several times and it’s one of my favorite science fiction novels.

Theodore Rex and The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris are two parts of an amazing biography of a fascinating man. If you’ve ever been intrigued by Roosevelt, these are books well worth reading.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry is the single best Western novel I’ve ever read – and perhaps ever written. I’ve read it over and over again.

God’s Politics by Jim Wallis attempts to lay out a road map for more progressive Christians to get involved with politics. While the idea is appreciated, I think it’s much harder to get the more progressive Christians to get involved, as most progressive Christians tend to practice their faith quietly (at least, that’s been my experience).

Yep, I spend a lot of time reading.

10 Reasons You Should Never Pay Off Your Mortgage Ric Edelman is the one personal finance “guru” I’ve entirely avoided on The Simple Dollar. Why? He makes some good points, but they’re mixed in with some huge assumptions, and if you blindly follow, you can get burnt. If you are willing to read what he says and actually analyze it (like what this article does), he’s worth reading for an interesting take on things. (@ my money blog)

Free Shopping at Walgreens I agree that Walgreens sometimes has astounding deals if you pay attention. (@ wise bread)

Build Wealth With A “Virtual Employer” This is a rather creative way to find a psychological stick to encourage yourself to save money. (@ get rich slowly)

The Simple Dollar Retro: I’ve Loaned My Friend Money And Now It’s Eating Me Up Inside Don’t. Loan. Money. To. Your. Friends. If you need to get them out of a financial pinch, give the money. Loans turn your friendship into the same relationship you have with your mortgage handler – is that what you call friendship?

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  1. Susy says:

    Don’t loan money to friends. I would also add don’t do work for your friends on a professional level. If a friend approaches us for a job we usually recommend them to another business.

    I’d rather keep my friendships in tact than earn a few extra bucks.

  2. Kaitlin says:

    If you enjoy books about Theodore Roosevelt you might also enjoy Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough. I thought it was excellent.

  3. Laura says:

    I know from personal expierience that loaning money to family can be difficult. An emergency sometimes justifies giving, but if you notice a habit, then giving the money can just enable them to continue their bad financial habits.

  4. Mark says:

    Don’t co-sign for a loan – for anyone.

    My sister-in-law called me the other day and asked me to co-sign on a car loan for her. The reason she can’t get her own loan is her credit is bad. I said NO. What makes me think she will make these payments when she has had such trouble in the past?

  5. Interesting. I hadn’t heard of that Ric Edelman guy until I saw that post on My Money Blog. The advice was so awful I immediately had to write my own post about it. Based on that article, I would definitely avoid him as well.

  6. guinness416 says:

    You’re dead right with the “give” advice. Life’s far too short to be chasing a friend or family member for a couple of thousand bucks. If they pay you back, it’s a welcome bonus.

  7. Amanda D says:

    God’s Politics is a fabulous book. Parts of it are slow & dry, but I kept pushing and he made some great statements that really opened my eyes. The realizations that I had after reading that book have really changed my life & I’ve encouraged many people to read it. I’d always considered myself a good “conservative, republican, christian” voter, but after reading that book, I’ve really re-examined how biblical principles apply to politics and shape my everyday living. Hope you find it as useful as I did.

  8. Brent says:

    I wish I could read books like you do. My daughter loves to read and I’ve told her the same thing. As a result I’m trying to start doing a little bit better each day.

  9. J. says:

    I just fell in love with Stephenson’s novels via Snow Crash. It’s utterly bizarre how many things we have and now take for granted that didn’t exist when he wrote that novel, yet he pretty clearly anticipated (flash drives, Google Earth, internet ‘real estate’, wikipedia, online avatars). And we now accept several technology glitches that actually drive his plot (viruses & software crashes — including a gun that needs to be patched and rebooted!) I’m in awe.

  10. guinness416 says:

    Brent, take public transit! That really beefs up your ability to read a lot.

  11. MegB says:

    Also, turn off your TV. I recently made a commitment to significantly decrease my “tube time” each week, and I’ve been able to get a lot more reading done every night after work. I find that it’s a great way to unwind at the end of the day.

  12. John says:

    While lending money to friends is generally bad, I think the related issue of splitting bills between roommates and paying each other back (and other small money lending) can be helped a lot by the services provided at They’re free, and have made keeping things straight in a five-person row house much easier.

    Just a friendly drop in for a service that I think is awesome.

  13. Brent says:

    guinness416 –

    I really wish that I could, and I would in a heartbeat. The job I have doesn’t allow it, leave before the bus and come home after the bus. I’ve been lucky enough to car pool with a guy I work with though, saving me roughly $100 month in gas.

  14. Amy says:

    Totally agree with your comments about Lonesome Dove. This is one novel I recommend to people, and I am not a fan of the Western novel.

  15. Jess says:

    Cryptonomicon is awesome. I resisted reading it for a while but when I finally got to it, I was quite impressed – I read it twice.

    Also – splitting bills between roommates sucks when your roommates seem to be unable to make a connection between putting the heat at 72 (though that was apparently a one-time thing, thankfully!) or not using CFL bulbs and expensive bills. Anyone have tips on how to explain the cost benefits of CF bulbs to people who leave lights on all day?

  16. Kai says:

    I can only second that Cryptonomicon appraisal. It is just a tremendous work of storytelling with a lot of love for detail.

    Although I am german, I read this one in english and really enjoyed it.

    BTW: My first comment here might be a bit off-topic, but I really enjoy TSD a lot! Not everything applies to the situation in europe but the basic stuff is very useful.

    Thank you for all the writing!

  17. baily says:

    Loaning money all around is bad… had a long time friend over 15 years.. calls says she’s in need of money – mind you i’m a single mom of 2 toddlers, i get my taxes back and she swears if i loan her 1400.00 i’d get it bac 4 days. It’s now been 2 weeks and she won’t even answer her phone. Her name is sharon lue nelson out of the woodlands texas and i’m so sad as now i cant even pay the bills i planed on paying and i’m in a world of hurt financally.. Don’t do it. My freindship is gone and i will be calling the police and courts and going after her leagally she claims to be a tax preparer and if so watch out people she is a fraud

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