Book Review: Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is damn good. It’s a thrilling mystery novel that goes back and forth between a husband and wife relaying the events surrounding her disappearance.

Loved it. I especially like the strong female character Amy. She’s one of those geniuses who’s too smart for her own good. Smart, neurotic, driven.

Here’s my favorite passage from Amy:

I was told love should be unconditional. That’s the rule, everyone says so. But if love has no boundaries, no limits, no conditions, why should anyone try to do the right thing ever? If I know I am loved no matter what, where is the challenge? I am supposed to love Nick despite all his shortcomings. And Nick is supposed to love me despite my quirks. But clearly, neither of us does. It makes me think that everyone is very wrong, that love should have many conditions. Love should require both partners to be their very best at all times. Unconditional love is an undisciplined love, and as we all have seen, undisciplined love is disastrous.

I appreciate her unconventional, but important message. For example, just because women are married shouldn’t give them free license to eat a bunch of twinkies and hoho’s. Yet you see this happening all the time. You have to care about your appearance. You want to be confident and sexy, not just for your husband, but for yourself too. Marriage should be a commitment to be your best self in honor of your spouse, but the way most people think of it, it’s like, this is what you’re stuck with!

Anyhow, I found that message to be refreshing and different. I liked the main character Amy, but I also liked how the chapters flip-flopped between Amy and her husband Nick trying to one-up each other. Drama!

Click on the image of the book to buy it on Amazon.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

I was listening to an interview of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, who I consider not only smart, but creative and forward-thinking. You know how there are really smart people who are leaders, but can’t seem to see beyond the present day. Those leaders will languish, while the creative ones will really contribute to our future.

The whole interview was a smorgasbord of insight. Check it out here.

The snippet I really appreciated was about how he spent his summers with his grandfather. At the local library, someone had donated a collection of science fiction books and over the course of several years, he read all the books. Anyhow, these futuristic books really opened his mind up to possibilities the average person doesn’t even think about. Love that because I truly believe you have to read a lot to move ahead in life. Not surf the web or read blogs, but read books.

Also, meetings at Amazon start with all the participants reading several pages of a memo. Actual paragraphs and sentences to form a cohesive point. Not bullet points on a PowerPoint presentation. He feels that creating a story and narrative forces the person leading the meeting to fully flesh out the idea. And the meetings all begin with everyone sitting there and reading quietly.

Pretty fascinating stuff. Wish I could afford the stock!

Book Review: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

This was a book club pick: Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.” I rarely read autobiographies or biographies in general, but this one is stand-out. It beats Jeannette Walls’s “The Glass Castle” and Gabrielle Hamilton’s “Blood, Bones & Butter” which I both enjoyed. The reason “Wild” is so good is because of the writing. Cheryl Strayed is a damn good writer. Carefully-crafted, insightful, it’s some of the best writing I’ve read in a while. I dog-earned so many pages where I thought she did a phenomenal job of capturing the experience, the emotion, and what she was learning from it. It’s the story of her at 26 years old in personal turmoil, coping with her mother’s death, a divorce, and drug abuse. She decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and details how the experience changes her life.

I’m always on the hunt for good books to read, but tired of searching for Pulitzer prize winners or Amazon’s Best Sellers. My friend TB sent me a comprehensive guide that she gets from her alma mater. Works for me. When in doubt, ask the teachers! I also get recs from a writer who I’ve taken writing classes from. She’s kept a reading list of every single book she’s ever read since she was a kid. It’s truly remarkable. I was inspired to get a journal this year for myself. Her booklist is also up on her website http://www.laurafraser.com/booklists/.

Money Monday: Shop at Amazon

I did a handful of price comparisons yesterday. Before walking home, I popped into Walgreen’s and wrote down the prices of items that I needed. Here are a couple examples.

Cerave $16.49

Biotrue lens solution $11.99 for one bottle

Then I went home and searched on Amazon for the same items. Every item was cheaper on Amazon, plus free 2 day shipping, and no tax.

Sidenote: When is that tax ever going to kick in? The state of California is in dire need of money!

Here are the prices I found on Amazon.

Cerave $10.21

Biotrue lens solution $15.88 for two bottles

Why shop anywhere else, right?

Money Monday: Amazon Credit Card

I have a multitude of credit cards: Schwab which is turning over to Bank of America, Capital One, American Express, Wells Fargo, and I have an Amazon credit card which is serviced by Chase. I’ve talked relentlessly about how I do the majority of my shopping on Amazon. If you do a substantial amount of Amazon shopping, then I’d suggest you get the Amazon card and link it to your account. You get 3 points for every $1 you spend which equates to 3% back that you can use at any time. You don’t have to reach a minimum, to use your points.

To summarize this and some previous Money Monday posts on credit cards, I’m moving forward with the Capital One 1.5% cash back credit card. I’ve linked my Amazon account to its own 3% back card. Then I’ve got AmEx because it’s the only thing Costco takes.

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