Monday, November 26, 2012

Dragon Keeper by Carole Wilkinson

This book for young adults is listed in the collection, "1001 children's books you must read before you grow up". After finishing the novel I am not sure why it is considered a must read.

The story itself is interesting: A young orphan girl in the western mountains of the Han Empire is held captive by a cruel master. In a sudden moment of bravery, the girl frees a dragon named Danzi, who is also imprisoned by the master. Following their escape, they proceed on a journey across China towards the eastern sea, in which they come across kind peasants, cruel dragon hunters, the emperor and necromancers. Throughout the journey they protect a mysterious dragon stone.

As a fan of fantasy the story caught my interest, and I was definitely predisposed to enjoying this book. Unfortunately, I found the writing to be a bit stale, and by the end of the novel was not that particularly engaged. The characters sounded wooden, while the action seemed contrived, reminding me of a forgettable action movie filled with obligatory explosions and car chases. Although this is the first book in a series, I am not sure if I will read the other volumes.

2 out of 5 stars

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton

I have wanted to read this book for a long time. A Canadian classic in the field of personal finance, I have heard for years about this groundbreaking work. Written as a novel, the book focuses on a character called Dave, a married father who requires financial advice. After asking where he can get such advice, he is told to go to visit Roy, the local barber who has become a millionaire by implementing a common-sense financial plan.

Thus begins a series of monthly lessons in which Roy offers his wisdom on such areas as insurance, RRSPs, saving 10 per cent of your income and whether to implement a personal budget  his answer to the latter may surprise you . Amazingly, even though the book was first published more than 20 years ago, it is still highly relevant to the contemporary reader.

Given the plethora of financial books available today, a lot of the tips in this book have since been repeated elsewhere. For instance, the "pay yourself first" mantra is a staple of many financial authors. What is really impressive about this book, however, is that it was providing groundbreaking advice more than two decades ago, years before many of today's popular financial planning authors. While I do not agree with all of the advice, (e.g. I found the section on funding the post-secondary education of children to be outdated), I found many of the tips incredibly useful.

In short, I think this is an excellent book that is worth the read. It's true that a lot of newer books say many of the same things, and that in certain areas you would be better served if you read more recent books. This is especially true if you want to know more about Registered Education Savings Plan. (Here is one suggestion to find out more about RESPs). However, if you want to become familiar with the basics of sound financial planning and want to do so by reading an easily accessible book, then this novel / financial planning guide provides an excellent start.

5 out of 5 stars