The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Three Excellent Novels Edition

Packing has given me a great opportunity to dig through our accumulated book collection, and in the process I’ve came across some novels I dearly loved and have read several times in the past. Three of them brought back such fond memories of their contents that I immediately added them to my “to be read” stack again. If you’re looking for some great summer reading, here are three stellar choices, along with a thumbnail review of each.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon – One of the best novels I’ve ever read, period. Friendship, love, social awkwardness, Salvador Dali, and the golden age of comic books all rolled up into a delicious pie.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving – The movie Simon Birch is very loosely based on this book, which actually tells a tale of how a friendship between two complete opposites at a Christian boy’s school eventually causes one of them to grow up and question almost everything in his life, particularly his faith.

The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle – I’ve loved so many novels of his (World’s End, Talk Talk, and especially The Road to Wellville), but this one was perhaps the best – a train wreck story of rich California liberals meeting face to face with impoverished illegal immigrants. It’s interesting on a pile of levels and a very fast and rich read, like everything Boyle writes.

Give each of these a shot – they’re all tremendous.

And now, for some personal finance…

Extended Travel Abroad For The Young Nickel makes a very compelling argument in favor of having a young person spend some extended time abroad, particularly between high school and college. I wholeheartedly agree (@ five cent nickel)

Cash Vs. Credit Card: Gas Stations Charging Different Prices Some gas stations have begun to charge more for using a credit card, essentially passing on the credit card processing fee to the customer. Nice. (@ consumerism commentary)

Which Investments Are Best For A Roth IRA? Ever wondered how you should invest money that you put into a Roth IRA? J.D. spells it all out for you here in a great lil’ compilation article. (@ get rich slowly)

The Simple Dollar Retro: Three Money Lessons My Grandfather Taught Me This was an incredibly enjoyable article for me to write. I got to reflect on a person who had an incredibly powerful impact on my life, retell some of his wonderful stories about his life, and realize that there were a lot of great lessons in them. And no, the picture there is not actually my grandfather, just a classic painting I’ve always liked that seemed appropriate.

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  1. Triston says:

    The Cash vs. Credit for gas article is worth noting. These transaction fees, also known as interchange, are really hurting gas station owners and actually contribute partly to the rise in price. I read the article and that particular gas station should display the two prices clearly but the fact of the matter is Visa and MasterCard charge these exorbitant fees yet nobody knows or understands them. I’m working with to raise awareness of the issue.

  2. Monica says:

    A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of my favourite books! :)

  3. Aimee says:

    I just ordered The Tortilla Curtain on Paperback Swap – thanks for the suggestion! I really enjoyed Boyle’s Drop City as well.

  4. k says:

    Oh, I loved The Tortilla Curtain! There was a year when I was giving it as a gift right and left. Now my go-to gift books are, depending on recipient, one of Marilynne Robison’s two (Gilead or Housekeeping), At Play In The Fields Of The Lord by Peter Matthiessen, and Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type (for kids).

  5. Chris H says:

    If you like The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, definitely check out Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold. There are a lot of similarities between them. I read “Carter” before “Kavalier” and as a result the latter left me a little cold.

  6. Ted Valentine says:

    Another vote for Owen Meany here.

  7. Trent says:

    If you liked Gilead, you’ll probably like A Prayer for Owen Meany. There were many similar themes explored in each.

  8. k says:

    Thanks, I’ll put it on my list. I’ve had a bit of a problem enjoying John Irvine in the past, but I’ve heard enough positive responses to A Prayer for Owen Meany I can probably give him one more shot, as long as it’s free from the library.

  9. M says:

    Owen Meany was an amazing book. I stumbled upon Simon Birch on cable a few months after I read it, and was extremely disappointed in how they had butchered the book.

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