Book Reports & Reading List

Books by shutterhacks

UPDATED 10-12-13

Sometimes we overlook the simplest and most cost effective method of education – reading. Books are an important part of my ‘Free Education Project‘ and this page will be used to summarize the ones I complete as well as the ones I plan to read.

In the age of $100k student loans, it is important to note that every book on this list was acquired for less than $10. The most obvious source for virtually any book is the library (free). However, some titles I prefer to keep and re-read. Those are readily available used from Amazon and Paperback Swap.


One Last Strike by Tony LaRussa & Rick Hummel


Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas (Read October 2013) – Ilgunas was a typical college graduate of the 2000’s – $32K of student debt with a starting salary that would make paying off that debt next to impossible. The book outlines the unique path he took to pay off the loan and chronicles how he earned a graduate degree from Duke with no new debt. (7.5/10)

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt (Read September 2013) – The author arrived in Venice, Italy just a few days after a fire destroyed the Teatro La Fenice opera house. During his time living there, he crafted an intimate portrait of the city and the people who call it home. (Rating: 7/10)

The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health by Robert O. Young, Ph.D. (Read August 2013) – The book’s basic message is that a balanced pH environment in your body (slightly alkaline or ‘base’) is essential for good health. The author believes a mostly green, plant based diet along with proper supplements is the key to weight loss and eliminating disease. The book also features over a hundred simple vegan recipes. (Rating: 7/10)

Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir by A.E. Hotchner (Read August 2013) – An entertaining collection of stories and insights into the life of writer Ernest Hemingway. Hotchner was a trusted friend and business associate of Hemingway and this memoir provides a behind the scenes look into the writer’s methods and lifestyle. (Rating: 7/10)

The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz (Read August 2013) – The book may be over 50 years old, but the principles contained within are priceless. The author points out how most of the time, we are our own biggest enemy on the road to success. This book provides some proven ideas to help overcome obstacles and shift thinking into success mode. Some of the material and verbiage is dated, but the ideas in this book are timeless. This is one of those books that I plan to re-read every year. (Rating: 10/10)

Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities by Jeffery Rosenthal (Read July 2013) – This easy to read and entertaining book explored the subject of probabilities as they relate to our everyday lives. The author highlighted the fact that sometimes the things we worry about the most are in fact the least likely to occur (i.e. plane crashes). The chapter about probability in casino games clearly illustrated why gambling odds are stacked in the house’s favor. (Rating: 7/10)

Work Less & Play More by Steven Catlin (Read July 2013) – Great find! Short succinct chapters make this an excellent starting point for someone who doesn’t want to waste their life “working for the man”. Common sense (avoid credit, limit possessions, create a Personal Treasury) mixed with interesting views about minimalism. Views not too different from those of Dave Ramsey (see above). I appreciated the author’s explanation of ‘consequence costs’ – often ignored upkeep & maintenance expenses for the things we buy. (Rating: 8/10)

Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey (Read June 2013) – A book that should be required reading for every high school senior. Ramsey presents common sense financial advice in the form of 7 Baby Steps (Create $1000 emergency fund, Pay off all debt, Save 3-6 months living expenses, Invest 15% of household income, Create college fund for children, Pay off mortgage early, Build wealth & give). His foolproof advice forms the base for a solid financial future. (Rating: 10/10)


Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Dr. Meg Meeker

Toward Rational Exuberance: Evolution of the Stock Market by B. Mark Smith

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes

The Dreadful Lemon Sky by John D. MacDonald

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

The Quarter Acre Farm by Spring Warren, Jesse Pruet

The Golden Ratio by Mario Livio

Make Money for Bob by Bob Gourley

The Boyhood Memoirs of A.E. Hotchner by A.E. Hotchner

The Wild Vine by Todd Kliman

The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs

How To Live 365 Days A Year by John Schindler

Luck Is No Accident by John Krumholtz & Al Levin

Economics Explained by Robert Heilbroner and Lester Thurow


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