Posted on

8 Books To Read This Summer

It’s summer! It’s terribly hot and let’s face it, we can’t go out in the day for any activities whatsoever. Binge-watching shows can get boring after a while, so how about curling up in the cool indoors with a light read? Refreshing, and entertaining!

1) The Summer We Read Gatsby


A comedy by Danielle Ganek, this book is about estranged sisters who are forced to reunite in Hamptons due to their deceased aunt. Light and quirky with a hint of dark humour, this book will definitely lift your spirits. Read it, and then maybe let your sister borrow it?

2) Oleander Girl


This book of intrigue and mystery by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, will have you gripping your chair as you read it! And we assure you will want to read this in one go without any stops. It has everything -a charming fiance, a dark family secret and a girl determined to unveil it. A must read for those who appreciate a thrilling narrative.

3) Remembering Smell


An absorbing tale about how the author, Bonnie Blodgett temporarily lost her olfactory nerve and went on through life without the crucial sense of smell. The incredible description of the functioning of the human body and the analysis of smell is a fresh take on science. It is unique in its narrative too, as you don’t get overwhelmed by the scientific tenor, but seamlessly enjoy the lightness to it!

4) Unaccustomed Earth


A contemporary collection of short stories by Pulitzer Prize awarded Jhumpa Lahiri, about life and living. Her stories deal with Indian-American expats questioning their lives of luxury and finding a connection with themselves and others around them. Definitely a book you’d want to read. It’s beautiful, the tone is stunning, and most importantly the short stories are perfect for summer reads!

5) Not That Kind Of Girl

A story of being at home in your own skin, this fun, and surprisingly raw autobiography by Lena Dunham (the girl behind the Girls) is a hilarious read. A heartfelt and relatable account of growing up from childhood to womanhood, you’ll definitely enjoy it.

6) History Of Love

A tragic tale by Nicole Krauss, it’s an intelligent romantic story about lost love, lost connections, but intact feelings. It may not be the lightest read that one can enjoy during summer, but it is definitely something that will engulf you in its narrative! Just keep a box of tissues handy.

7) Where Rainbows End


An epistolary book by Cecelia Ahern, this is a charming tale of childhood best friends who are separated but manage to keep in touch despite distance, their jobs, failed marriages and raising children until they realise that maybe they’re meant for each other. The movie “Love, Rosie” was based on this.

8) Born Confused


Rarely is an Indian the protagonist of a coming-of-age-novel set in America. This novel, written by Tanuja Desai Hildier, is about an Indian-American girl brought up in New Jersey. She struggles to conform to the values and traditions of her lineage while living like the usual American. Battling the “outsider” status along with her best friend, she deals with number of tricky situations. This is absolutely funny and perfect for the season!

Posted on

The 10 Best Science Fiction Books

Yeah, I know, I hate “Ten Best X” lists, too. Inevitably the attempt to condense a huge field–one that often contains multiple subgenres, and has decades, if not centuries, of history–down to just ten (or fifty, or let’s be serious even a hundred) items is going to end badly. It can’t really be adequately done, and anyone reading the list is going to find their favorites are left off, or declare that the listmaker has a laughable idea of what’s best and essential.

Science fiction has pretty much exactly this problem–a history of at least a century, arguably two if you’re in the “ Frankenstein was the first science fiction novel” camp. A multitude of subgenres. And even if a reader could more or less keep up with everything published as science fiction in the past, in recent decades there’s been so much more published that it’s impossible to have read everything significant that’s come out. Any attempt to list the ten best science fiction novels is doomed to failure.

So I’m not even going to actually attempt it. These are ten of my favorites. It is perforce an idiosyncratic list, and if your favorites aren’t here, either I had to leave them off because I’m only doing ten, or else we have different favorites. Which is the way things should be!

1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


Most of us were introduced to this story by one of the various movies made of it, or even just the image of Boris Karloff with flattened head and bolts sticking out of his neck, lumbering around and moaning. But Shelley’s monster was actually quite articulate, and able to speak at length and intelligently about the predicament in which it found itself. And while Shelley isn’t terribly specific about just how Victor Frankenstein brought his creation to life, it’s pretty clear that she was thinking in terms of scientific ideas of the time, taking the experiments of Galvani and Aldini and going one step forward with them–if applying electric current to a dead body does, indeed, give it some semblance of life, what then? What does that mean? You can make the argument that this isn’t really science fiction, if you really want to. But whether or not you think it counts as part of the genre, its impact on SF&F is undeniable. And it’s a good book. Not bad for an eighteen year old girl who basically wrote it for a holiday party game.

2. Solaris by Stanislaw Lem


It was my parents who introduced me to Lem. Which is a bit weird on the surface, because actually neither of them much liked SF and while they believed that I would eventually make a writer of myself, they would have much preferred I go for mysteries, which they loved, or at least some sort of thing they could think of as “literature.” Realizing this would never happen, they would occasionally gift me with books they understood to be actual quality (read “not really science fiction”) and hopefully more highbrow than my usual diet of pulpy adventure. Solaris may or may not be highbrow, but it’s pretty darn trippy. An ocean-covered planet that may or may not be a single sentient being. If it is, it’s an utterly alien one, and the humans who try to study it find themselves confronting their own past traumas and, ultimately, learning nothing about Solaris itself. I’m given to understand this book exists in at least two translations from the Polish, the more recent much better than the older one.

3. The Secret of Sinharat / People of the Talisman by Leigh Brackett


Really, I could put just about any of the Eric John Stark stories here. Brackett’s Mars owes a debt to Burroughs, and so does Stark–born on Mercury, his parents die and he’s adopted by Mercurians. I have this as an old Ace double, back to back (and upside down from each other), full of pulpy goodness–ancient technology, body-switching, tribes from the Drylands of Mars massing for war, a world with space travel and interplanetary mining concerns, where the light of the two moons of Mars glints off swords, spears, and mail. This is great, engaging adventure.

4. The Star King by Jack Vance


I love Vance’s language, the careful, almost-ponderous formality that even his rogues sometimes use, with great ironic effect. He also does wonderful visuals, and has a wry view of human nature and culture that I enjoy tremendously. Some of Vance’s best moments are throwaways–footnotes, bare mentions of the customs of some city or planet his hero is visiting, and his stories are great fun. I’m hard pressed to pick a single one to recommend, honestly. The Star King is the first of a series of five in which Kirth Gersen sets about revenging his family, lost in a murderous slave raid carried out by the five super-criminal Demon Princes, each of whom gets a book. I’m sorely tempted to just quote passages at you, but I won’t. Just read some Vance if you haven’t already.

5. The Zero Stone by Andre Norton


Norton wrote so much, and was read so widely, that it’s difficult to pick a single best, or to encapsulate her influence on the writers who grew up reading her . The Zero Stone is as good a place to start as any (and better than some–probably because she wrote so much, not all of Norton’s work is particularly good. I say that as a diehard fan). Apprentice gemologist Murdoch Jern has inherited one thing from his murdered father–a ring set with a mysterious stone, found on an alien corpse drifting in space. It’s an ancient alien artifact that several someones are willing to kill to get hold of, and Jern has no one but himself and a mysterious small furry alien to rely on. Pure, pulpy adventure goodness.

6. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin


The “science” in “science fiction” isn’t just physics and engineering. It can also be linguistics, anthropology, and psychology. This is the story of Genly Ai, a man sent to talk the inhabitants of the planet Gethen into joining the interstellar civilization he represents. The genderless nature of the Gethenians is probably the most famous aspect of this book, but it is hardly the only notable thing about it. The cultures are carefully drawn, and there’s a reason everyone who reads it remembers Genly and Estraven’s desperate flight across the ice.

7. Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky


Like Solaris , Roadside Picnic exists in English in two different translations (from Russian in this case). The most recent is reputedly the better, and it’s the one I’ve read. Sometime in the recent past, aliens visited Earth and then departed, leaving behind all sorts of mysterious and dangerous debris. Trash left behind after a roadside picnic, but the bodies and lives of the humans who come into contact with it are irrevocably affected. The man character is one of the people who make their livings scavenging the litter left over from this brief alien visit. It’s an unforgettable book, particularly the ending.

8. Neuromancer by William Gibson


This slickly written cyberpunk heist novel made a huge splash when it was first published in 1984, and its influence continues to this day, in common images and motifs, and in our everyday use of words like “cyberspace.” If you’re interested in science fiction and you haven’t read it, well, I urge you to make time to read it. You won’t regret it.

9. Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh


There are several other Cherryh novels I might have included on this list instead–either of the Hugo-winners Downbelow Station or Cyteen , for instance–but this one is a personal favorite. A small population of humans lives on a world that’s majority humanoid Atevi. After a disastrous war, the only point of contact allowed between the two is the Paidhi, the chief Human translator, who oversees the handover of Human tech to the Atevi. Things have been going along fine for more than a hundred years, but suddenly things begin to unravel, and Paidhi Bren Cameron needs to figure out what’s going on fast before he gets himself–and every other Human on the planet–killed. This is a novel where on the surface everything is small-scale–we see only from Bren’s eyes, and seemingly trivial actions like choosing to drink a cup of tea (or not) have world-reaching consequences. It’s also a novel deeply concerned with language.

10. Embassytown by China Mieville


Another novel deeply concerned with language, with some nods to Cherryh’s Foreigner here and there, in fact. The Arieki speak a language in which the map is the territory–lies or abstractions are impossible. They also have two mouths, and the only way humans can communicate with them is through identical twins who have been bred and raised for the purpose. The introduction of a non-twinned Ambassador causes chaos among the Arieki. I’m really not doing the novel justice with this short capsule. Seriously, just read it. Or check out The City and the City , also by Mieville, for an equally mind-tickling read.

Posted on

5 Comic Books Outperforming Gold And the S&P

Every time a comic book movie makes hundreds of million of dollars, a comic-book owner’s collection gets a little more valuable.

Warner Brothers’ take on DC Comics’ “Suicide Squad” made more than $200 million in its first two weeks of U.S. release despite absolutely putrid reviews. That’s on top of the more than $330 million Warner made on the equally miserably reviewed “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” earlier this year. Yet that’s only good enough to rank them third and fourth, respectively, among comic-book movies released this year, with Disney and Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” ($407 million) and Fox and Marvel’s R-rated “Deadpool” ($363 million) coming out ahead in the U.S.

With Disney and Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” yet to come in November and both the DC and Marvel universe movies plotted out until at least 2020, established comic properties are going to continue to be steady moneymakers for Warner, Fox and Disney. But will they produce dividends for comic book collectors as well.


The answer is yes, as long as you know what you’re looking for. As Marvel and DC bring more characters including Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman and Black Panther into the mix, the comics in which they made their first appearances and the books that featured key storylines from their films tend to appreciate in value.The folks at finance site GoCompare checked in with comic book expert Duncan McAlpine of the U.K.-based Comic Book Price Guide to assess the value of more than 100 comic book titles. Among them, 80 fared better from the beginning of the economic downturn in 2008 to the start of 2016 than the S&P 500. The S&P managed a 39.1% return, while the highest-ranking comic book saw its value skyrocket by 26,567%.

Just to give you some idea of just how well the price of comics can fare under the right circumstances, GoCompare looked at the five top-performing comics from among McAlpine’s recommendations and saw significant gains against not only the S&P, but the price of gold as well. Tomorrow’s blockbuster film is today’s low-cost investment in an acid-free envelope with a backing board:

5. Tales To Astonish


Before Groot was riding with Star Lord and the other Guardians of the Galaxy, he was saving us from aliens from the Planet X in Atlas Comics — a precursor to Marvel. Behind artist Jack Kirby’s stark imagery and writer Stan Lee’s imagination, Atlas laid the foundation for one of the greatest comic empires of all time by simply churning out sci-fi titles like Strange Tales , Amazing Adventures and World of Fantasy . At a time when the label’s superheroes were limited to holdovers like Captain America, The Sub-Mariner, Marvel Boy and the original Human Torch, other genres brought in the cash. Groot wasn’t meant to be a superhero but, as the years progressed, the job just found him.

Our Recommended Books:

4. Pep Comics


A comic book doesn’t go from a 10-cent cover price to six figures without something fairly significant happening within its pages. In this particular comic, we get our first look at Archie Andrews and his gang in Riverdale. Jughead Jones, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Reggie Mantle, Sabrina “The Teenage Witch” Spellman and Josie and the Pussycats would follow, as would an entire reboot of the series last year that likely did wonders for this book’s value. This book was already worth $33,000 in 2008, but after Archie struck a new deal with Random House in 2010 to increase production, the value of this original soared.

3. Marvel Super-Heroes


While the value of this book rose from 25 cents when it was published to $95 by 2008, that’s still a fairly low bar by superhero origin standards. That price didn’t really budge until 2010, when Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige name-checked Guardians of the Galaxy as a potential film at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con. The price started to soar when Marvel confirmed that it was in development at the 2012 Comic Con. After landing Chris Pratt as a lead, a perfect ’70s AM Gold mixtape as its soundtrack and $333 million at the U.S. box office alone in 2014, the Guardians of the Galaxy became full on rock stars. The return on their debut book basically maintained parity with gold and the S&P until 2012.

2. New Mutants


No, Deadpool wasn’t always the wisecracking, fourth-wall breaking, R-rated mercenary that Ryan Reynolds used to steal moviegoers’ dark little hearts. He wasn’t even that the last time Reynolds played him in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” back in 2009. Nope, in fact, it isn’t until about five years after his first appearance that he takes on the Marvel comics jester role and starts mugging for the readers. When he’s first introduced in this New Mutants storyline, it’s as a supervillain that’s loosely based on Deathstroke from DC’s Teen Titans. But, by the late ’90s, Marvel’s antihero streak that gave rise to Wolverine, The Punisher and Ghost Rider earlier that decade was starting to wear a bit thin. Deadpool retained some of the less-moral elements of those three, but grew more self-aware and pop-culture savvy. He didn’t want to be the joke; he wanted to be in on it.

Remarkably, it took almost 20 years for someone to get the character right on screen, but the fact that notoriously dour Fox held the rights to his character didn’t inspire confidence. Neither did the weird power-sucking version of him from “Wolverine.” In fact, this book was only up to $5 in 2008 and hovered at $11 three years after Deadpool’s first big-screen appearance. Even when production began on “Deadpool” in 2010, the needle didn’t move at all. It wasn’t until footage began surfacing in 2014 that this book’s value began to soar.

1. Batman Adventures


“Suicide Squad” is a big reason for this book’s recent surge in value, but for the wrong reason. Yes, this is the first time that “Suicide Squad” member and Joker paramour Harley Quinn appears in a comic, but this isn’t her first appearance in general. Harley Quinn originally debuted as the Joker’s sidekick in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series that first aired on September 11, 1992. However, Quinn didn’t start appearing in comic books until 1993, when she was basically ported over from the television series. Also, the form of Quinn that audiences saw portrayed by Margot Robbie in the film didn’t appear until DC rebooted its whole line of comics in 2011.

Posted on

5 self-help books to help you master money

Three years ago when I started the long and convoluted tango towards divorce as an Aussie in New York City, money was not the first thing on my mind.

But there’s nothing like single motherhood in the financial capital of the world to spark an interest in money matters.

It started with a book called Money – A Love Story . I may have thought it was a summer beach read from the title, but once I devoured the first chapter I had found a new obsession: personal finance books.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Best for cleaning up your emotional financial issues

Money – A Love Story, by Kate Northrup


I love money. But Kate Northrup made me realise that I didn’t love money in the right way. Money is like any other relationship – and apparently I wasn’t showing up to the party. This beguiling book takes us on an epic journey into the emotional aspect of our financial lives, filled with questionnaires and visualisation exercises. Beginning with a Money Love Quiz, Northrup highlights our disabling financial flaws, before leading us to a triumphant coda of fiscal empowerment, optimism and purpose.

Best for planning out your long-term investment strategy

Money: Master the Game, by Tony Robbins


In a bid to help people take financial control of their lives, this brilliant tome shows us how to build an investment portfolio in seven steps. Robbins tracked down posh pro-financiers, such as Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates, and persuaded them to share their methods with the hoi polloi. Concepts such as asset allocation (that the vast majority of the public doesn’t know about, yet should) are laid out in generous detail. There’s even an app to take you through the seven steps. At 656 pages, it’s a long game.

Our Recommended Books:

Best for learning about and growing your assets

Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki


Don’t work for your money, make your money work for you. This bestseller exhorts us to create assets and investments that build wealth for us. Written like a parable, Kiyosaki has been criticised for some fuzzy concepts (he claims a home isn’t an asset, since it doesn’t bring in profit). Yet there is plenty to listen to: put profits back into other assets; don’t aim for more income, aim for more assets; and create a company to save tax. It’s great advice for beginners.

Best for financial mind control

Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill


Data men and cynics look away. Everyone else, know what it is you want. Riches begin with a state of mind, and this depression-era classic outlines 13 steps needed to realise success. Hill interviewed 500 of the most successful men of his time and found that they all shared a relentless desire to achieve their goals. Throw in some persistence, faith, autosuggestion and imagination, and you’re on the way to becoming a 21st-century Carnegie.

Best for inspiring you to spend less and earn more

The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas Stanley and William Danko


Sure, being a millionaire is small fry these days. According to Stanley half of America’s millionaires don’t live in upscale neighbourhoods. Why? Because they are saving more than they spend. Stanley died last year, and some critics claim his thesis did too – that the market has changed and it’s not possible to achieve the same high yields anymore (the book debuted three years before the GFC). Yet Stanley’s message is pertinent no matter what the market – work hard, earn money and spend less than you earn.

Posted on

The 5 Best Money Books For Entrepreneurs

When it comes to books on business, marketing and management, entrepreneurs are overrun with choices. But when it comes to books on money, entrepreneurs are underserved. It’s not that money books don’t exist, it’s that they rarely look at money through the eyes of an entrepreneur. So here are 5 money books I believe every entrepreneur will benefit from reading:

#5 The Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Clason


The Richest Man in Babylon is a series of parables set in ancient Babylon — each with its own lesson about building wealth. One of the most enduring wealth lessons from this book is to “pay yourself first.” If you’ve ever been told to immediately divert part of your paycheck into a savings account before you have a chance to spend it elsewhere, even on bills, then you have this book to thank.

I’ve made it a point to pay myself first no matter the circumstances. For example, in hard times when every extra penny went to sustaining my business, I still found a way to stick 15% of my income into our personal savings account every single month. Even when that meant scrounging around the house for old complimentary hotel soaps and shampoos.

#4 Keys To The Vault by Keith J. Cunningham


Some business ideas are so big that you have to raise outside money to even get started. That’s why Keith J. Cunningham wrote Keys to the Vault: Lessons From the Pros on Raising Money and Igniting Your Business . Whether you want to raise money from friends, family, angel investors or venture capitalists, Keith teaches you how to create a business plan, assemble an all-star team and choose the legal and financial structures that will excite investors. If you’ve ever had a business idea that required raising money, Keith J. Cunningham’s book is for you.

#3 Economics In One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt


If you want to know how money flows in an economy, but don’t want to commit to years of study, Economics in One Lesson will help you learn the basics quickly and easily. Many people think that because they know business, they know economics. But business and economics are different college majors for a reason. And I believe that learning to think like a good economist is a critical step toward prosperity and success in business.

Our Recommended Books:

#2 Killing Sacred Cows by Garrett Gunderson and Stephen Palmer


I couldn’t make a list of the best money books for entrepreneurs without mentioning Killing Sacred Cows . Of course, I’m biased because I wrote it. But most investment books are written by people who profit from the investments they write about. That’s their bias. And there are very few books out there that teach you to invest in yourself and your business before investing in things you don’t know or control like the stock market. Killing Sacred Cows at least shows you that there’s another way, as well as helping to tear down 9 financial myths about debt, savings, retirement and more. I wrote the book because I believe every entrepreneur will benefit from reading the book.

#1 Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki


For me, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki was the book that completely changed the way I think about money — and changed the course of my life forever. Without it I probably would have never written my book, or at least not the same book.

The reason Robert Kiyosaki’s book is so important, especially for entrepreneurs, is that it changes the conversation from accumulation to cash flow. Most “financial advisors” focus on saving your way to wealth. They want you to put every extra dollar away into a government-designed plan with limitations and penalties for withdrawing “early.” It’s a 30-40 year plan that leads too many entrepreneurs to underfund their real wealth creator — their business. But when you focus on cash flow, like Kiyosaki recommends, investing in your business today makes sense. Investing for cash flow produces income that can immediately be put back to work in your business or another cash flow investment. Focusing on cash flow is more efficient for entrepreneurs and gives you more freedom to live wealthy today. I highly recommend it and the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad