Tag Archives: Book Club

Review: A Truck Full of Money (DNF)

A Truck Full of Money

A Truck Full of Money
By Tracy Kidder
Random House, 9780812995244, September 2016, 288pp.

The Short of It:

If you are into the start-up culture and enjoy seeing ideas comes to fruition, you will find something of value in this read.

The Rest of It:

This is the story of Paul English, a kinetic and unconventional inventor and entrepreneur, who as a boy rebelled against authority. Growing up in working-class Boston, English discovers a medium for his talents the first time he sees a computer. As a young man, despite suffering from what would eventually be diagnosed as bipolar disorder, he begins his pilgrim’s journey through the ups and downs in the brave new world of computers. Relating to the Internet as if it’s an extension of his own mind, he discovers that he has a talent for conceiving innovative enterprises and building teams that can develop them, becoming “a Pied Piper” of geeks. ~ Indiebound

If you paid attention to the title of this post, you’ll see that this was a DNF (did not finish) for me . This is a rarity, especially when it comes to a book club pick, which is what A Truck Full of Money was to me. I try really hard to finish all book club selections but I just could not get past the 45% mark on my Kindle.

It’s well-written, so it’s definitely not the writing that caused me to eventually give up. No, I believe it was the subject matter. I work in Information Technology. I am surrounded by programmers and application developers but within the higher education sector so I expected to be somewhat enlightened to this new world of start-ups but I was bored people! Bored out of my mind.

At one point, Paul English becomes heavily involved in philanthropy and this part interested me because when someone is in possession of that much money, and we are talking quite a bit of money, it’s admirable when they choose to support charitable causes.

Kidder goes back into English’s childhood and here again, I was kind of pulled in only to be pushed away again. It just wasn’t enough for me to keep reading but he was the founder of Kayak.com and battled bipolar disorder to get to where he is today so I’m not really sure what didn’t work for me because his story is certainly compelling.

Have you read A Truck Full of Money? If so, let me know your thoughts.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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Review: Hillbilly Elegy – A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Hillbilly Elegy
Hillbilly Elegy
By J.D. Vance
Harper Paperbacks, 9780062300553, (Paperback) May 2018, 288pp.

The Short of It:

An important read, even if you think you won’t be able to relate to it.

The Rest of It:

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis–that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. – Indiebound

I had been avoiding this book when it was selected by my book club. Truthfully, I wasn’t interested in it because I knew it would hit too close to home, and it did. I didn’t grow up in the same region as Vance but I could identify with nearly everything Vance encountered growing up: addiction, abuse, poverty, and having what seemed like no other options for living.

But I could also identify with a need to belong, a need to succeed and the well-meaning intentions of some of the folks around me. Vance tells his story with brutal honestly but his story is peppered with hope throughout, which makes this memoir a very interesting read about the long-term effects of class decline on future generations and it begs the question, how can we fix it?

The full impact of this memoir didn’t hit me until the last third of the book. That is when Vance gets to the point. The never-ending cycle of poverty for some, make it impossible for them to rise above it. How could they without the realization that there is more out there?  If the norm is poverty and abuse, and it’s all they see, what motivation exists to change their situation for the better?

I know some people will argue with that logic. That people have a choice and they choose to be poor but for many, they grew up that way. They were never shown or given the opportunity to live differently. Vance suggests that the people who manage to pull themselves out of this cycle are the ones who were introduced to something different. I agree. It’s the number one reason why I work with teens and the homeless. I had people in my life that showed me a different way and that made all the difference. I want to be that person to someone else.

Hillbilly Elegy is a powerful read and if you don’t want to read it or think you can’t relate to it in some way, try, because it’s important to know how other people live. For our society to flourish we need role models to show us a better way because no matter where you stand politically, brokenness is evident all around us if you look.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.