Holiday reading from finance to escapism

  • Time to relax: columnist Martha Harris Myron presents a number of suggested books to read during the holiday season, from an examination of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, to stories of a South African childhood

    Time to relax: columnist Martha Harris Myron presents a number of suggested books to read during the holiday season, from an examination of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, to stories of a South African childhood


A few years ago I started a column called “Good Reads for Christmas,” which was written for entertainment and inspiration at this time of the year.

Dear readers, we realise your tolerance level during the holidays for all things financial is about zero since you’ve been lectured incessantly most of the year about money, saving, spending, scrutinising your budget, and watching your pension portfolio, and a whole host of other finance-related matters.

Reading is a marvellous pleasure. Those who do not enjoy reading have never experienced the sheer peacefulness in the absorption of a story. Time flies, imagination runs wild, the book transcends the present — at the end, you wish there was more.

Of course, if you are lucky enough to have a favourite comfortable chair set next to a sunny window, a brilliant garden, a fireplace with tea and shortbreads, or a box of chocolates, or glass of wine, beer, gin and tonic or margarita, these all enhance the perfect atmosphere for relaxation.

The greatest invention, in my opinion, is the freedom of choosing electronic books, particularly, enhanced with access to the thousands of volumes in our local Bermuda National Library (https://bnl.overdrive.com) and elsewhere.

Millions of books, autobiographies, mysteries, and out of print books are now converted to electronic format. You can access them through open library recourses, see the useful links at the end of this article.

Books can also be purchased as new (support our retailers), second hard, and as audio tape and e-books. Free children’s books read aloud visually can be found on YouTube.

Here are an assortment of reads with particular themes, some popular writers, topical (sometimes discouraging information) and interesting characters or narratives. Yes, I’ve read almost all of them. Look up the title in Google to find out details about the publications.

Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah. Mr Noah has a great sense of humour in writing of his own growing up experiences, but beneath this exterior, one has only a small sense of those early very tough challenges.

In the Eye of All Trade: Bermuda, Bermudians, and the Maritime Atlantic World, 1680-1783, by Michael J. Jarvis. A must read for any Bermudian (resident) with detailed descriptions of our amazing marine survivalist forebears. Long, but not boring!

• Ian James Rankin, the Scottish crime writer best known for his Inspector John Rebus character, a man complicated and mysterious himself.

• Michael Lewis, author of The Big Short, The Blind Side, Flash Boys. My favourite is still his first book, Liars Poker.

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me, by Jennifer Teege. The stumbling discovery of an adopted biracial woman of her unbelievable history.

Heritage Matters: Essays in the History of Bermuda, by Edward C. Harris, Director Emeritus of the Bermuda National Museum.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web, by David Lagercrantz, an authorised author carrying on the Stieg Larsson tradition.

• Jack Reacher books by Lee Child. Start at the beginning, Mr Child’s spare prose and his original Jack Reacher, a modern knight, is a favourite of mine. Theoretical Jack is a cut far above his literal movie imitator, Tom Cruise.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. According to the author, Henrietta Lacks was her name, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells — taken without her knowledge in 1951 — became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilisation, and more. The story of the discovery, the family involved and ongoing implications.

• Walter Mosley is the author of the bestselling mystery series featuring hard-boiled detective Easy Rawlins, and other works. Many books to choose from, one of the best Devil in a Blue Dress.

An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny, by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski. An executive takes a disadvantaged young boy out to McDonald’s for lunch, and how both of their lives were changed by an initial act of kindness.

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, by Jane Mayer. Depressingly necessary and pertinent to our time.

And there are some books need no introduction:

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, by Barack Obama

The Woman I Wanted to Be, by Diane von Furstenberg. Her mother barely survived a Nazi concentration camp and more.

• Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals, made incredibly popular by the six-part television series, The Durells of Corfu. Greek and English culture family experiences in the early twentieth century.

Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen.

Pigeon Tunnel Stories from My Life, by John Le Carre.

The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, by William Manchester, three-part series in hard copy or e-book.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougall. A book about the amazing long-distance runners of the Tarahumara native Mexican tribe.

Wild: from Lost to Found on the Pacific Trail, by Cheryl Strayed, which is better than the movie.

Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, by Piper Kerman. It is not like the TV show, it’s much more serious.

A Long Way Home, by Saraoo Brierley. A boy’s incredibly journey from India to Australia and back again. An incredible story of the power of human memory, the internet and the passion of a child (now grown) to find his family.

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, by Alice Schroeder. A long read about fascinating man.

So many books, so little time

Happy Holidays!

Useful links:

Open Library https://openlibrary.org/

Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/

Smithsonian Free Library https://library.si.edu/books-online

Martha Harris Myron CPA CFP JSM: Masters of Law — international tax and financial services. Pondstraddler Life, financial perspectives for Bermuda islanders with multinational families and international connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Contact: martha@pondstraddler.com

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Published Dec 23, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 22, 2017 at 11:43 pm)

Holiday reading from finance to escapism

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