Economic Education

February 18, 2013 at 12:35 am (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Finance

Lords of Finance Discussion Part One (I am writing this only 150 pages into a 508 page book.  I anticipate a series of reviews, much like how I handled Les Miserables in 2012, except over a short amount of time.  I will have the book completed no later than March 4th, 2013)

Title: Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World

Author: Liaquat Ahamed

Publisher: Penguin

Genre: Economics/ History

Length: 508 pages

Inevitably I read something and find about ten more things I need to read.  My constant lament on this blog is why we didn’t read more source documents in school.  So is it any wonder at all that while reading Lords of Finance for the HPB Humble Book Club I discover that I absolutely must have a copy of The Economic Consequences of the Peace? Probably not. Or it shouldn’t be.

In addition to that title, I find myself longing to dive into more history books on the time period as well as full length biographies on a few of the people mentioned.  You wouldn’t expect that kind of revelation out of reading a finance book, but Ahamed has a way of turning a phrase that makes interest and exchange rates, and the people directly responsible for their flux, fascinating.

I think this would be a great title to hand to a high school student during an economics course, it would definitely make the class more interesting.  I enjoyed my economics classes in college, taught by a clever little man with a wonderful accent (Scotland? Liverpool? Not sure) and had a great sense of humor despite teaching all his courses at eight o’clock in the morning.  But what I remember of high school economics was pretty cold and void of any kind of spunk.  It was filled with boring formulas, worksheets, and a fairly heavy textbook that we read very little of.  Obviously, the formulas are handy and important, but couldn’t there have been a little more meat? A little more perspective? A little more history?

Maybe living in a recession has weighed heavily in how I view the dollar, but I would like my child to grow to understand how much the economy effects politics, social customs, humanity, and art.

Idolizing money is a concern and a problem, but seeing how money fits into our lives and the bigger picture is important.  So often we are taught that money is separate and that we should keep it that way, but the truth is money is never separate.  Our history is riddled with money driven politics, so why is our history class and our economics class separate?  Our religions are filled with instructions on what to do with our money, our philosophies rooted in our thoughts on whether to live richly or poorly and how rich and poor are defined.  I think the history of banks, the dollar, and what your views are on the matter should all be addressed while you are learning how to calculate it, not as a completely separate train of thought.

HPB Book Club Spring 13 730Ahamed’s Lords of Finance was recommended to me by a customer at Half Price Books, it was actually chosen for the Humble location’s book club by that same customer, and I am so glad I took his advice.  We will be discussing the book as a group March 4th, 2013, starting at 7:30 pm.  Additional members are welcome, so if you are interested in the book and are in the area, please join us.  Treats are provided.

So far, the book is enlightening and informative, it covers a lot of the banking information provided in the documentary Zeitgeist without the haze of conspiracy theories and blasphemy.  I imagine we will have a lot to discuss when we meet. Until then, I plan to share my own thoughts here.

Other titles in my personal Economic Library:

Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations

Thorstein Veblen’s Conspicuous Consumption

Craig Karmin’s The Biography of the Dollar

Thomas Stanley’s The Millionaire Next Door

Please share any titles you think should be added from a historical, philosophical, or sheer financial perspective.

Next Lords of Finance Discussion Installment

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An Education in WWII

August 18, 2012 at 3:36 am (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Title: Number the Stars

Author: Lois Lowry

Genre: Young Adult

I have been a long-time fan of Lois Lowry from my wonderful experience with The Giver in the sixth grade.  At that time I was completely in love with all things dystopian society.  Ironically, when I wasn’t reading dystopian society literature (Invitation to the Game will always hold a special place in my heart), I was devouring all things holocaust.  An all-time favorite World War II book being Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. So how did I miss out on Number the Stars, a holocaust novel written by my favorite dystopian society young adult novelist? I don’t know.  But if you also suffer from this mishap – please do yourself a favor and remedy the situation, no matter how old you are.

What I love most about reading this as an adult is that the book is set in Denmark, and King Christian X plays a role in the landscaping of the novel.  I missed out on learning any details about King Christian X during my World War II studies in school, so I pretty much knew next to nothing about him prior to this novel.  Not that there is a lot to learn about him in the pages of Number the Stars, but definitely enough to make me want to go pick up a biography on him the first chance I get.  The little tidbit in the novel about how he rode the streets of Denmark on his trusty horse, Jubilee, every morning and greeted his subjects is so endearing and immediately peaks my interest.  The story Lowry includes about the little boy and the Nazi soldier… ‘Where are his bodyguards?’ asked the Nazi.  ‘All of Denmark are his bodyguards,’ the boy responded.   Brilliant deviance and loyalty! Did this really happen or is this a bit of fiction Lowry put into her tale? Either way, I like it! Still, I mean to find out the answer!

I’ve decided this wonderful piece of literature will not be lost on the kiddo.  The beauty of homeschooling is having the ability to choose the absolute must-reads for her education.  The beauty of a classical education is being able to have age appropriate reading material for everything that is meant to be learned.  No missing out on any particular piece of literature because it hits the wrong age group when you’re studying any particular topic.  Number the Stars has been added to the list; and yes, there really is a list.  (It’s never too soon to start writing curriculum!)  The other beauty of homeschooling is that as a parent your education is never quite done either.  There will always be something to read – something to study – to make sure I don’t miss a beat while schooling the kiddo.

For more about the occupation of Denmark and the nation’s amazing effort (and success!) in saving their Jewish population during the war, visit this site: http://www.auschwitz.dk/Denmark.htm

A Book I mean to check out:

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Review: Suite Francaise

July 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

I don’t think anyone can truly appreciate this book until they know the following: When Nemirovsky was writing the book she originally meant it to be five parts, but she only finished two: Storm in June and Dolce, these two parts are what makes up Suite Francaise. These five parts though, were each individually fashioned (in writing style) after the five parts of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Storm in June’s chapters are short and sweet, choppy, slightly repetitious in nature. Dolce is a little more long-winded and flowing. Imagine the beauty of the completed work, if she had lived to finish it. Without this critical information I was irritated by her repetition. I thought perhaps it hadn’t been through the proper editing because she died before the novel was completed. But listening to Beethoven and knowing what she was fashioning this all after, putting the war in terms of music, within a novel. Its beautifully fascinating. What made her think of it? How wonderful would the entire book have been had she lived to complete it? The story was interesting and the writing good, but for some reason I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I think I should have. I expected this to be a four or five-star book for me, easily, based on reviews and whatnot. Instead, I just liked it, and was far more fascinated by the appendices at the end. I loved her notes and journal entries, it was so amazing to be inside her head for those brief moments.


Book Title:Suite Francaise
Author: Irene Nemirovsky
Original Publication Date: 2004 (written in 1942)
Edition Read:
2006 Knopf
Total Pages:
395
Genre:
Classic Historical Fiction
Reason Read:
Found on Amazon as a gift for my mother; she gave thumbs up as did Sandy, neither of whom steer me wrong
Rating:
5 out of 5 Stars

“He wanted to write a story about these charming little horses, a story that would evoke this day in July, this land, this farm, these people, the war – and himself.

“He wrote with a chewed-up pencil stub, in a little notebook which he hid against his heart. He felt he had to hurry: something inside him was making him anxious, was knocking on an invisible door.” – Page 179

If you love lyrical prose and character development, I highly recommend this enjoyable book. I really loved this book the farther along I went…

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The Book Thief by Zusak

August 12, 2010 at 1:46 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

This is a fascinating piece of young adult World War II fiction.  Although written for a young audience, as an adult I found the story just as riveting.   I thoroughly enjoyed Zusak’s use of literary devices as he describes the life of a young German girl in Nazi Germany as she learns to read and write, adjusts to a new family and neighborhood, and grows into an adult – all under the reign of Hitler.  The Book Thief addresses the topic of humanity, love, and death and dying in a whole new way with Death as a narrator and a Jew in Nazi Germany hiding in the basement.  I would definitely utilize as a supplement to a 12 year old’s World War II studies and I think it is also a great book for Books-on-Books collectors like myself!
To Buy, Please Click

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Unexpected Gem

December 18, 2009 at 4:31 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The Reader is a touching coming of age novel that reads like a  memoir.  Reminiscent of McEwan’s Atonement in its themes of shame and intense raw humanity, Schlink constantly begs the question from his characters and his readers: “What would you have done?”  The humility of illiteracy, ignorance, and confinement brought tears to my eyes.  I found The Reader to be an unexpected gem.

Purchase The Reader

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