Here’s one that I picked up for my personal collection. You know how it goes – you’re in the airport, you already finished one book on the first leg of your flight and you don’t want to be caught with only book on a long flight, right? After all, the battery on your Kindle could give out, leaving you with only the in-flight magazine, and someone has probably already done the Sudoku. So, I’d heard great things about Flash Boys by Michael Lewis and now it’s at the top of my TBR pile.
Flash Boys is about a small group of Wall Street guys who figure out that the U.S. stock market has been rigged for the benefit of insiders and that, post–financial crisis, the markets have become not more free but less, and more controlled by the big Wall Street banks. Working at different firms, they come to this realization separately; but after they discover one another, the flash boys band together and set out to reform the financial markets. This they do by creating an exchange in which high-frequency trading—source of the most intractable problems—will have no advantage whatsoever.
The characters in Flash Boys are fabulous, each completely different from what you think of when you think “Wall Street guy.” Several have walked away from jobs in the financial sector that paid them millions of dollars a year. From their new vantage point they investigate the big banks, the world’s stock exchanges, and high-frequency trading firms as they have never been investigated, and expose the many strange new ways that Wall Street generates profits.
The light that Lewis shines into the darkest corners of the financial world may not be good for your blood pressure, because if you have any contact with the market, even a retirement account, this story is happening to you. But in the end, Flash Boys is an uplifting read. Here are people who have somehow preserved a moral sense in an environment where you don’t get paid for that; they have perceived an institutionalized injustice and are willing to go to war to fix it.
I’ve got a stack of new books this week! New books are always fun, and I’ll be sharing them over the new week or so, giving you an early chance to check them out. First up, Caught Dead: A Rick Van Lam Mystery by Andrew Lanh:
One of the beautiful Le sisters is dead. Hartford, Connecticut’s small Vietnamese community is stunned. Mary Le Vu, wife of a poor grocery-store owner, is gunned down in a drive-by. Her twin sister insists dutiful Mary “wouldn’t be caught dead” in that drug-infested zone. The police rule it an unlucky accident. Skeptics hire private eye Rick Van Lam to get to the truth. Amerasian Rick—his father an unknown US soldier—is one of the Bui Doi, children of the dust, so often rejected by Vietnamese culture. But his young sidekick, Hank Nguyen, a pureblood Vietnamese, can help Rick navigate the closed world of Little Saigon. Surrounded by close friends—a former-Rockette landlady, his crusty mentor, and his ex-wife Liz—Rick immerses himself in a world that rejects him, but now needs his help. Especially when a second murder strikes in Little Saigon. Rick and Hank delve into the families of the Le sisters, one poor, one very rich, and uncover a world of explosive ethnic tension and sinister criminal activity ranging from Hartford’s exclusive white suburbs to the impoverished inner city. To solve the murders—and bring closure to Mary’s grieving circle—Rick looks to long-buried memories of his Buddhist childhood for the wisdom that will lead him to a murderer. Caught Dead starts a smart, unusual series.
This is the start of a great new detective series! At least, I hope it is; I haven’t seen any indication that M.P. Cooley is planning a follow-up to Ice Shear, but I certainly hope she is working on it right now. Ice Shear combined a great mystery, some good twists and turns, interesting characters and a likable lead detective with a great back story – one that holds a lot of promise for future novels.
Officer June Lyons is nearing the end of her overnight shift in the small town of Hope Falls when she makes a gruesome discovery: a young woman, impaled on a spike of ice in the Mohawk River. Instead of heading home for breakfast with her young daughter, Lyons will be dealing with frigid temperatures and a hostile Assistant District Attorney, with even more surprises in store. The dead girl is the daughter of a powerful Congresswoman and her sketchy past is going to make this a tough case for everyone involved.
Lyons returned to her hometown during a particularly rough patch in her life. She has family here, but she isn’t totally accepted by some of her colleagues on the police force. When the FBI is called in, it gets even more difficult – now she’s also dealing with hostile former colleagues. Her interactions with the locals and the outsiders really drew me into the story – a single mom, pressure from all sides, trying to do a really difficult job – she’s a great character and there is a lot of potential for future stories.
Really, this is a great mystery from cover to cover. If you can imagine a Senator’s daughter married to the head of a motorcycle gang, that’s all the suspension of disbelief you;ll need (and certainly not the craziest thing we’ve ever seen from a Senator’s kid). Lyons’ backstory is great and there is a lot to uncover there. It will be interesting to see where her personal story goes in the next book.
My copy of Ice Shear is an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge.
This is so true! I can easily share a companionable afternoon with almost anyone, as long as we are each reading our own books.
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading!”
- Ranier Maria Rilke, Austrian poet and novelist
We all know that, right? There’s a lot of research to support the idea – it lifts your mood, reduces stress, it may prevent Alzheimer’s, it improves your concentration – so I was really interested in this article from Arts.mic: Science has great news for people who read books. Apparently, reading a print book is better for your brain than an eBook.
Reading long, literary sentences sans links and distractions is actually a serious skill that you lose if you don’t use it. Before the Internet, the brain read in a linear fashion, taking advantage of sensory details to remember where key information was in the book by layout.
As we increasingly read on screens, our reading habits have adapted to skim text rather than really absorb the meaning.
Not only that, the physical presence of the book helps our memory of the story:
A 2014 study found that readers of a short mystery story on a Kindle were significantly worse at remembering the order of events than those who read the same story in paperback.
The tactile experience of a book aids this process, from the thickness of the pages in your hands as you progress through the story to the placement of a word on the page. Mangen hypothesizes that the difference for Kindle readers “might have something to do with the fact that the fixity of a text on paper, and this very gradual unfolding of paper as you progress through a story is some kind of sensory offload, supporting the visual sense of progress when you’re reading.”
I love my books and I love my Kindle, and I love having the option to choose between the two. So read! Find time to read every day and if someone asks what you’re doing, tell them that you’re exercising your brain!
“If you cannot read all your books…fondle them—peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them, at any rate, be your acquaintances.”
- Winston Churchill, British politician, UK Prime Minister, and a man who liked to fondle books