Rule #1: The Simple Strategy for Successful Investing in Only 15 Minutes a Week! by Phil Town (2006)

has Jim Cramer quoted on its cover, which should have been a warning sign. The author presents a confusing mix of approaches from Peter Lynch's One Up On Wall Street : How To Use What You Already Know To Make Money In The Market and Benjamin Graham's The Intelligent Investor sprinkled with some basic technical analysis. A claim of turning $1000 into $1000000 in only five years comes early in the book, representing an annual return of 300%, although the best case scenarios presented in the book might bring a 50%+ annual return. And the key expression to stress here is best case scenario. Basically the author selects a short list of companies with brands liked (including Harley Davidson and Starbucks), then demonstrates some basic historical financial filtering to arrive to preferred investments. It is suggested, that it is appropriate to invest in one and only one company at time, which makes this not dissimilar to casino gambling. It is not exactly clear based on what criteria the nicely performing examples were selected either, as some of them are not listed in original list of "strong brand name" companies. It is also not clear, if the author's offerings perform better than the Berkshire Hathaway stock price, considering the similarity of selection criteria. In this case, even those 15 minutes a week are wasted, as one could simply buy Berkshire Hathaway stock. While some discussions on the little benefit added by the various advisors offer value, other portions of the book have limited practical value. I would not recommend to anyone to try to follow the confusing directions given with their hard earned money.


The Testament by Eric Van Lustbader (2006)

A deadly wild goose chase through US and European cities for religious artifacts (including the Philosopher's Stone) ala "The Da Vinci Code". Maybe for a rainy day, maybe not even for that ...


Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of Modern Civilization by David Keys (2000)

describes how dramatic changes in 530s A.D. in the climate (likely caused by a major volcanic eruption in Krakatoa, Sumatra) and associated cold period and crop failures, and the plague spread by rodents from ancient African ports in the current day Somalia, led to the accelerated fall of the Roman Empire, the rise and fall of Avar Emprire (and Slav tribes as associated) rise and fall of the Persian Empire, the birth of Islam as a religion and as a violently conquering government ideology. In addition just in Euroasia, it triggered the Turkish conquest of much of Europe, created the "forgetten" Jewish state of Khazar, formulated England, Ireland, France, Spain as we know them today. In other parts of the world, there were major turmoils in China, Korea, Japan in the same period (based many of these same basic reasons as described above). In the Americas, multiple empires fall at the same time too (and created religious bloodbaths trying to appease the Gods), including the Teotihuacan, Tikal, Nascan, Moche, while other empires like Maya, Huari and Inca did spring up in those very same places. It should be noted that Anasazi society in the current day Arizona, US did survive these calamities and were able to accelerate their own development to fight the consequences.
So why is this relevant today? There are multiple volcanic areas with increasing activity around the world capable of producing magma multiple times of the quantity during the eruption in 535 A.D., including Yellowstone and Long Valley, CA in the US, near Naples in Italy and in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea. An eruption of one of these super volcanoes, would abruptly change the world's current political and economical setup. There is a chance that some or many of the First World countries might survive in some form, but order in other locations would likely fully break down, sinking into utter chaos, as it did back in those times.

Action!: Nothing Happens Until Something Moves by Robert Ringer (2004)

is one of the several motivational books written by Mr. Ringer. It's 260+ pages are filled with various delightful anecdotes making the book an enjoyable read. The book's basic premise can be condensed to: only Action can bring results, the Law of Averages helps you getting more results as more actions were taken (think phone soliciting here), and the simplest and most rewarding action could be "asking, asking again, and again" in many circumstances. So take action now!


The Ruins by Scott Smith (2006)

I listened to this as an audio book, which probably enhanced the experience, as I liked how the story was read. This simple story leading a group of unprepared young vacationers into a nigthmare bringing out the best and worst of their characters, and makes one wonder how would strong one would be in similar situation in real life. Behind all leisurely vacation spots, there lurks real life, reaching out to steal a hat and sunglasses for a start and sometimes leading into something sinister and deadly. Recommended.