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What I read: The Spring 2020 Edition

Short notes of why my reading halted so much in 2019:

I read a lot. Like tons of books, but 2019 was not my best year.

This is why if you care, otherwise, skip ahead.

1. I wrote a book on money..

…because I am insane and didn’t have enough to do already.

Obviously. So I decided to write a general book on money.

2. I was working on building up Instagram (another microblogging platform):

All new content. I use SOME content from this blog, but not really. It is all created from scratch.

Last year 2019, I was working quite hard on getting my Instagram off the ground so to speak. I ended 2019 on this note:

I was making lots of mistakes at the start of summer, trying to figure out what my voice was, what my posts would be, my ‘style’ and creating something that wouldn’t be too time-consuming to sustain because I am involved but I cannot be creating custom images for an hour or two at a time for a single post. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I have finally hit my groove, and feel comfortable where I am – 3 posts a day:

  1. one personal (style/food)
  2. one money (general)
  3. one money (personal)

More or less.

I also do ad hoc posts for Canadian promotions for banks or discount brokerages for what I feel is useful for people, like “Oh TD Bank is giving away $300! Sign up for a chequing account!”


I went from about 1800 to 5000+ followers by the end of the year which for me is a massive accomplishment, because I grew it organically without running any sort of cash giveaway promotions, buying followers or sucking up in general. All of which to say, it was much harder than if I had just done the above, but that’s just me.

The goal is 10,000 followers because then I get the Swipe Up option to link easily to things, which would make my life a lot easier. After that, I DON’T CARE.

So I am back to reading books instead of working on creating content for Instagram. Or at least, balancing it.

Thanks for being patient!


You’re a badass at making money

This is a book for people who are scared of money, think money is evil, and can’t seem to ‘get ahead’ due to their thoughts. It is for people who self-sabotage because they grew up thinking about money in a negative way, and feel that being poor is more virtuous than being rich, so they do everything to avoid getting and making more money.

Umm.. so it wasn’t a book for me, because I love money, and believe that everything I touch, even hobbies, have the potential to make me money (and very often do). The only thing standing between me and money in these activities, is hard work, grit, sweat, elbow grease… you get it.

A lot of these things, even hobbies, take time to build up to being something that is a moneymaker.

Blogging or even social media for instance is hard work, and it takes time and consistency to build.

Even if I wanted to become a yoga teacher (which I do not), I already have a ton of ideas of how to get started – I would start by getting certified, then doing lessons on the side at yoga studios for cheap just to gain experience, work up a name for myself, start an Instagram of me doing yoga and teaching it, and go from there.

There are so many ways to make money. Everything can make you money – but do you want it to?

What doesn’t kill you makes you blacker

Excellent compendium on various stories about being.. well, a black person. I have zero experience in this area, and just reading the essays made my eyes pop. I already knew from an intellectual perspective that people are targeted because of their skin colour but I never knew how much everyone lives in such fear of it 24/7 from people I would consider trustworthy in society – police officers and the like.

Very eye-opening.

Catch me if you can

I couldn’t stop reading it. I already watched the excellent movie with Leo in it, but this book goes into much richer detail and adds in more that you couldn’t get from the film in a short amount of time.

The film hit on a good 80% of the book, but if you loved the movie, you ABSOLUTELY need to read this book. Frank Abagnale is a brilliant mastermind who sees and observes everything, and the only thing I didn’t love is the sort of underlying blame he puts on his parents’ divorce that turned him into the criminal he became.

I don’t buy it. You always have a choice, especially as a teenager and he chose it.

Sort of makes me paranoid about everything and everyone however. The key points I learned from the book is that to be believable, you need to have the right outfit/appearance, and just pure confidence/belief in yourself and who you are.

This isn’t just for scamming, but in general — to walk with purpose and confidence and no one will question you (SO TRUE especially in a uniform.)

The Gifts of Imperfection

I picked up this book because my friend recommended the author, and I liked her writing a lot. I think this is a book a lot of women in particular need because it helps you let go of being perfect all the time, but also what people think of you.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves in general – to be a woman, a mother, a wife, partner, sister, daughter… and the stress of all those responsibilities of what we think a perfect person is, can be very trying, especially if you’re surrounded by “perfect mothers and wives” (eyeroll here… and newsflash, no one is perfect.)

I already went through this transformation of fear, self-doubt and being scared to be my authentic self when I was in high school and college.

Then I went through another phase of being a know-it-all who couldn’t admit she was wrong.

Now, I am me. Imperfect and loving it. I read the book and found parts of it interesting for myself personally, but as I don’t really suffer from Imposter Syndrome, Perfectionism (my partner does, he should read this book), hangups about my confidence and so on, I didn’t find it particularly relevant for me, personally.

That is not to say I am 100% confident and awesome all the time, and I certainly let myself have pity parties and wallow in my misery, but I always bring myself back from the brink of stress and disaster because I believe in myself as a person. I have 100% confidence in who I am, and I do think that feeling like I am a great person, helps me rely on .. myself for validation when I feel at my lowest, as odd as that sounds.

Be Angry

I wanted to like this book because.. DALAI LAMA. But this was not really a book worth reading. It was too stark, and minimalist. Had some nice trite sayings in there about being angry to push social justice and issues – but I already knew that. Most people know that. Riots are a big thing these days to bring about change.

I appreciate however, SOME of the sayings at the end that I suspect if there was more writing/fleshing out of the philosophy to explain Buddhism and to go into detail about these seemingly simple statements, I’d have liked it more.

Swearing is good for you

This is an excellent book. Full of swearing, and great research on swear words.

Totally explains why I swear so easily in French but not in English unless I am truly furious, because swearing in a second language removes the emotional trigger in my brain for pain and anger.

It also explains why women aren’t “allowed” to swear, due to a guy who happened to write articles on it as men were the only ones allowed to express written opinion in those days and be taken seriously, AND he was a devout churchman, who thought it wasn’t ladylike (in his mind and OPINION) to swear. He expected women to be whitewashed angels who floated around and were genteel, and even counselled men to watch their language.


Great book. My takeaway is – I am doing awesome. I swear when I want, in a moderate amount and am not excessive (I don’t enjoy that in anyone), and it is perfectly healthy, even required that you do swear – it is a sign of intelligence (something I have heard before).

I will continue to asterisk out swear words because I cannot write those words as a polite blogger publishing publicly to a wide audience, but you all know what they mean, obviously. ENJOY!

Bad with Money

I like this book in the sense that it has a lot of real stories, and examples of how your money origin story from your childhood and your relatives, can really f*ck you up for the rest of your life. She gives great examples and even at the end of each chapter, little notes or homework questions, if you will, and this book is NOT going to be a practical set of instructions of what to do, and what each financial term means. You need another book for that.

….. but I cannot help but eyeroll a tiny bit at this entire book with their stories and sigh.

Has no one heard of secondhand shopping?

She was dropping stuff off for sale at a thrift store but never imagined she could shop there and save a fkload of money instead?

Especially for nice, professional clothing that she couldn’t afford?

Is it because secondhand shopping is for poor people? (A true mindset some people have.)

You can find items there for less than at retail at H&M or Zara and in higher quality!

Or how about going to the library for books and movies?

If you “don’t have any money”, why the hell are you spending money on Amazon Prime and other such services?

Or spending money on cabs? Parking?


I know it sounds sanctimonious coming from someone like me who makes a high income now but there was a time I didn’t make a lot of money and I cut out a lot, just to clear my student debt at a fast rate.

Even today, I am LOATHE to pay for parking and will park blocks away and walk just because I don’t want to spend those few dollars.

I also won’t pay for cabs – I’ll go earlier and plan for a longer walk if I have to. Or take public transit. Sometimes I’ll even walk 9 blocks instead of paying the $3.25 bus fare.

These are all tiny amounts but they add up and contribute to your mindset that convenience is something you ‘deserve’.

That’s the only tiny part of the book I sort of rolled my eyes at, but the rest of it was well researched, I liked the stories and enjoyed another perspective on the working class of millennials particularly in the realm of unpaid internships and how classist they are.

Red, White and Royal Blue

“The romance book of the year”, was a let down for me. I don’t relate but you might if you’re young and gay – in which case, go for it. I think you’d really enjoy the plot and the twists.

Because I couldn’t relate to it, and sort of didn’t love the plot of U.S. vs U.K., I read it, and liked it more in the second half, but wouldn’t consider this a great book to recommend or re-read.

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture

One of the best books I have read in a long time on discount stores, discount culture and how we have lost touch/sight of the cost of things.

I highly recommend this book because it opened my eyes to so much, not that I didn’t know it before, but learning the history and reading about consumer attitudes is one of my favourite topics of all time, and this is a nice book that talks about how we are essentially cheating ourselves by chasing low prices.

I always had a feeling about low prices not really being a bargain at all, and this book slams the facts of it being true, in your face.

Discounts, discounting culture and low prices are not really doing us any favours because it:

(A) benefits the rich as well – they get to buy cheaper things and save the rest of their money – 80% of the net income increases have gone to the 1% of the population. Let that sink in.

(B) doesn’t let you see that your salary is actually not enough to buy goods that are of a decent quality.

If you pay $1 for something that breaks after 5 uses, instead of $20 for something that breaks in 5 years, which one is the better deal? Obviously B, but if your $1 is precious, and you cannot muster up $20 to buy this better quality item, it means you start feeling dissatisfied.

You start realizing you don’t actually make enough to afford anything worthwhile. A $20 item could be quite expensive for you, relatively speaking, so you buy 20 of the $1 items, and are tricked into feeling happy because you can buy quantity, but not quality.

This is not what governments, economies and retailers want. They want you to think that $1 on crap is a GREAT DEAL because it is ONLY ONE DOLLAR. But is it really?

Consumers are getting squeezed and it certainly is not the rich ones!

Sure the prices are low but the quality of that $2 item is appalling, and investors (the rich 1%) are happy because the squeeze on quality, being passed down onto consumers, is what makes them money by investing in these companies to be able to afford that $20 item and ignore the $2 one.

Aside from being wasteful, it just freakin’ sucks that a $30 pair of pants would be ruined after a few washes, but the $300 pair is out of your budget unless you save for 10X that.

One solution? Buy secondhand.

Anyway, great book. Goes into the history of discounting and consumer culture. I read every half chapter, and just contemplate the words and what it means, and it has shifted my perspective even more (not that I was a fan of cheap crap anyway).

Big Potential

I like the premise of the book – that collaboration and diverse teams full of different people and viewpoints, make the BEST teams; not necessarily a bunch of super smart superstars. I have seen superstars on team who all wanted to fight and be seen and it never turns out well.

That said, I’m going to read what he is saying with a grain of salt because he is basically saying that remote work is counterproductive to a company doing well. When companies read this, they rescind telecommuting like IBM did and makes everyone’s life a living hell especially if you commute a long way to get to work.

As a remote worker who loves remote work, I’ll say that I save all of my meetings and collaborations for when I go into the office and I am super productive in that regard.

The rest of the time? I’d rather be alone and be individually productive with no distractions, chats and coffee breaks. I get distracted so easily in the office with people talking, noises, etc.

I collaborate when I want to, not if I’m being forced to be. I agree that talking face to face and being in person is great but a balance is needed, especially for knowledge workers.

13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do


I am nodding along through this entire book, taking snapshots for my friends to message them knowing what they are going through. It reaffirms what I am doing is exactly what I should be doing – not being a perfectionist, not expecting to be a perfect mother, and expecting and visualizing everything for myself and my goals.

It was a good refresher for me.

Naked Money

I went into this thinking I’d be bored, and 20 pages in, I couldn’t put it down.

Talks about.. money. What it is, what it isn’t, fiat currency, what currency is, the difference between money and wealth.. but not in a philosophical way, in a practical, economist’s manner. Very much like my favourite economist Tim Harford, Charles Wheelan is good at breaking down complicated concepts into easy-to-get bites of information.

Real Food / Fake Food

I am literally that annoying foodie that knows way too much about food, so I appreciated this book outing all the fake food we see on the shelves today from:

  • Fish called “Red snapper” on menus actually being catfish – unless you go to high-end restaurants, forget ordering this fish
  • Parmesan cheese not being Parmesan – they use Grana Padano cheese or worse, you buy that Kraft stuff off the shelves that contains cellulose from wood
  • Shrimp not being properly raised — this means you’re eating some of the worst chemicals for your body embedded in the food when you eat shrimp UNLESS you go to specific places
  • Kobe beef for many years was not even allowed in the country so any place that said “Kobe beef” were straight up liars
  • ….The list goes on, really…

HIGHLY recommended read for anyone who is a foodie, who loves food, eating good food, and wants to stop paying for overpriced food that isn’t even what it is supposed to be.

What I couldn’t read:

  • Steak – I love food. I am a foodie. But this honestly is a book I couldn’t finish reading. It made me feel ill to hear descriptions I would normally salivate over. I think it could be that I have been so consumed with images of animals, particularly in recent events of them all dying in Australia, that I am really going more vegetarian these days in my choices and my meals. It’s time.
  • Severance – Ling Ma – supposedly an award winner which means jack squat as I am discovering; I can’t read this style of writing, all over the place with no real context or plot. It is about a millennial living in a post-apocalyptic world where the Shen Fever swept the world and now they’re only the few ones left.
  • Kitchen Curse – Another critically acclaimed book I cannot read. It is a short list of short stories. If this sounds like your thing, go for it: “explores the turbulent dreams of an ex-prostitute, the hapless life of a perpetual student, victims of an anticommunist genocide, the travails of an elephant, even the vengeful fantasies of a stone. Dark, sexual, scatological, violent, and mordantly funny, these fractured fables span city and country, animal and human, myth and politics.


Here are all of my other What I read posts.


  • M

    Totally agree about Severance. I did finish it, but I didn’t like it, and my whole review can be summarized as “Meh.” I loooved Real Food/Fake Food. Just added Cheap and 13 Things Mentally Strong Women to my to-read list!

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