Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Let Me Entertain You, Let Me Make You Smile

Yesterday was a good day. Jer had it off, so we drove to Cinebarre in Mountlake Terrace to watch "The King's Speech." They had a Red Hook beer "Mud Slinger" on rotation, and we each enjoyed a pint with lunch.

Cinebarre has ruined me for all other non-food serving theatres.

I really enjoyed the movie, and tried to stay as unaware of its plot as possible in advance. Of course right before the movie, during a lull between student films, I heard a man say to his friend, "Yes, it's about the son of King George the fifth and..." I plugged my ears and hummed until it stopped.

It's like reading an introduction to a novel, where the introducer gleefully gives away the surprise twist. Or a friend who says, "This won't ruin it, it happens in the first scene..."

Speaking of reading, I'm working my way through a great book called "Fiasco: The Inside Story of a Wall Street Trader." Not only does it offer the clearest explanation of derivatives I've ever read, but it's also full of juicy tidbits and warnings about the nature of your investments.

At my last trip to the used bookstore I picked up another book I'd recommend, "Gods, Graves & Scholars, The Story of Archaeology." I chose it on a whim. The version I bought was a wonderful blue hardbound book in a cardboard slipcover. This is far from a dry, academic dissertation. Told from a German perspective, stories and anecdotes of discovering ancient cities and artifacts come alive. When I took a class in archaeology in college, this is the text I needed to read. Instead I had to write a paper about what it might be like to excavate my dorm room after a major quake and try to imagine what a future society would think of my things.

Not much, was my thesis statement.

Another book I'm reading is "The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language." I was lucky to find this in a beautiful hardbound version at the same used bookstore I mentioned above. I'm not very far into this one but it's already drawn me in with its easy style and fascinating connections. From the beginning it makes you think about how amazing the instinct for language is, how incredible that just by saying words you can cause a mental image to pop up in someone else's brain.

Last but not least, I'm reading, "How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World." Slightly drier than the other books so far, it makes up for that in the wealth of its information. Maybe it's because I'm woefully uneducated in European history, but it seems like every other page I think, "Hey, I didn't know that." and "Really? The Scots tried to colonize Panama? I did not know that."

I picked "Fiasco, ""The Language Instinct," and "How the Scots..." because of recommendations at the end of "Poor Charlie's Almanack," which you can order from the publisher for $49 (as of the time of this posting). I highly recommend this book, above all other books listed here. Charles T. Munger is Warren Buffett's silent partner in Berkshire Hathaway. His humor is dry and his knowledge of all topics is extensive.

Regarding my biography solicitations in previous posts, I'll mention those another time. This list is already long.

Advertising note: I receive a commission when you buy through Amazon links on this site. I don't get a commission for recommending the Munger book.


Rapunzel said...

I'm very interested in the How the Scots..book, did you finish it? I'm thinking my Scottish bio dad would love it. :)

Christy said...

I kept waiting to respond to your comment because I thought I'd get further in the book, but no dice. So far I really enjoy the book. Parts have been a teensy bit dry, but then there have been some really interesting anecdotes to make up for it.

I recommend it -- at the very least the title alone would be a great conversation starter.