The Week in Books 2009, No 27

Mrs. Miniver is a book of essays originally released individually, which goes a long way toward explaining why there is no plot and not much of a story in this book. The writing is otherwise excellent, and I thought the character of Mrs. Miniver was well developed. In fact, I liked the writing and character so much that I was even MORE disappointed that nothing ever happened. I wonder why Jan Struther didn’t take the start she had with the essays (good internal monologue, many well put observations about life, good descriptions) and write an actual novel based on the character? I confess I was disappointed in this book.

If Mrs. Miniver was rather disappointing, Crash Proof: How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse was even more so. I saw a clip of Peter Schiff talking about the recession linked from Facebook, and I thought since he apparently called the housing bubble maybe he’d have good things to say about the recession and economy in general. Sadly, I found this book to be heavy on hysterics and light on reason.

Schiff does make some good points. He rightly states that our economy is not as strong as it should be because we have become a nation that spends on consumption rather than on development, our government deficit is staggering, the dollar is weakened, and a lot of people are cruising for a bruising economically speaking.

Mixed in with his good points, however, are lots of weak and/or bizarre points and suggestions. For example, Schiff suggests taking out a home equity loan so you can invest in foreign gold mines and small Asian companies that are ignored by other investors. Um, yeah, what a great suggestion – take ONE overvalued investment and compound your involvement therein so that you can take on even MORE risk, this time in an area you know NOTHING about. Run away!

Although some of it is good, much of this book is not, so I can’t recommend it.

I also wasted a bunch of my reading time starting several other books that I deemed unworthy of completion. I hate that. I’m trying to stick to my rule of giving a book 75 pages to grab me before I put it down, but at that point sometimes I feel like I’ve invested so much energy reading it that I want to finish the book just to get the credit for my wasted time. That is, of course, foolish, and hence I did not finish the other books. Perhaps next week will be better!

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