• Books

    China Rich Problems by Kevin Kwan

    The last book in this trilogy and I am sad! I have had such good time reading these books. The last two have been very addictive.

    I devoured this book in two sittings. I do think the author has issues with dragging the middle parts and concentrating on less interesting or underdeveloped characters like Kitty. She was slightly more developed this novel, but it feels like the reader had to be prodded to like her. The other bad thing is that there is not enough Rachel in this book. She is missing from most of the action in this book which is a shame. We do get to understand Nick better at least.

    I really liked the back story with Ah Ma and the more family inheritance drama. It was good soapy fun. Again the Capital Without Borders book came in handy as I knew and understand all the intricacies about trusts, foundations, and inheritances.

    I really hope Kwan writes another novel soon. He may not be a perfect writer but he is one of the most fun I’ve encountered in awhile.

    Read July 9-10, 2018.

  • Books

    China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

    This was fun. This is the Crazy Rich Asians sequel and another follows this one. I am looking forward to it because I think the author has found that groove. This second instalment in the series is better written than the first. The author changed up some of the format and added more characters. The pace moved along well in the first half. There is still a lot food, Chinese language, and rich people jargon. I continue to like Rachel, Astrid, Nick, and Charlie. Eleanor has developed as well and I like a couple of the new characters.

    Pacing is a bit better but part 2 dragged a little bit while they were in China and Paris. It was very excessive, but I guess this book is all about the ostentatious wealthy. I did find Astrid’s plot frustrating as well but at least it gets resolved much more by the end. The one subplot that I don’t like is the Kitty Pong one. I understand that she represents a different kind of woman than Rachel and Astrid, but she is far more underdeveloped. I have no real interest to seeing her life in Rich Society.

    These are minor quibbles. I am having fun with these books. They remind me when I first started reading Sophie Kinsella’s novels more than a dozen years ago. Easy, frothy, and entertaining fiction where I don’t have to think too much. I have been reading more non-fiction lately so I am glad to have found this series. Furthermore, I love the trend of reading mainstream books with Asians who grew up in the West. It use to be a lot harder to find these kind of novels for me, but they are much more popular now.

    I would caution against reading this in ebook or at least in my very old Kindle. The series uses a lot of footnotes which means being redirected everytime you see them. I started this as an ebook as the novel did not come from the library yet. I made it through Part 1, but returned to Capital Without Borders and waited for the novels to be checked out before I could continue.

    Read July 4-8, 2018

  • Books

    Capital Without Borders by Brooke Harrington

    Between the Crazy Rich Asians books, I decided to read a non-fiction book about the wealthy to ground me further into reality. I learned about this book from the NPR podcast “Hidden Brain.” I actually requested that my public library acquire this book. I only resort to doing that a few times a year.

    The podcast interview let me to think it was more of a casual non fiction book about wealth managers and their ultra high net worth client, but in reality, this is an academic book. It is published by Harvard Press and is about a study that the author held with other wealth managers. As an academic book, there are many footnotes and citations. It is not extremely dry and is rather better written than a lot of academic studies. However, it is not necessarily a book for the average reader learning about wealth managers. The language and theorizing in this book is more academic focussed. It helps to have a background in economics, political science, policy, and law. As I did use to study these topics, I was familiar with a lot of the theories and authors mentioned in this book.

    The book has tidbits and anecdotes from wealth managers and how they are changing the landscape of the sovereign state and political economy. There is wide discussion about wealth inequality. The nature of wealth managers is to preserve the wealth of the rich and allow their families to inherit their economic power. As with a lot of discussion about the wealthy and inequality, it’s rather sad how much the wealthy have over most of the world in this way.

    I liked this book and it’s a good reminder of a profession that the average person does not much about. It’s interesting looking at their perspective and their ability to change policies and client behaviour as well. I do not necessarily recommend this book to everyone because I believe my interest and bacjground in wealth, economics, and politics helped. I do think the book is readable even for the average non-fiction reader. I quite liked it. I wish more academic studies were written this way.

    I recommend this book to those very interested in the topic of wealth management and also, for those are actually wealthy (no one reading this blog). At least if I ever become wealthy enough, I know who I can look for and understand their services better.

    Read July 4-8, 2018.

  • Books

    Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

    With a heatwave going on and a wonderful long weekend underway, I wanted a fun summer read. I have been curious about this book ever since I read that the movie was greenlit.

    This book is definitely the an easy to read summer novel. It has fun travel writing about Singapore and Asia including discussion about its food, fashion, and its people. The last one being the prime focus. The setting and many of the characters in this book are so 1% that this is practically a fantasy novel for most of this world. The families at the centre of the novel are soap operatic in their lineage, marriage traditions, and schemes.

    The author really knows how to describe Chinese people and Chinese culture. It knows the ugly sides of it and the good side of it, but the book revels too much in the bad sides. Rich nasty people are everywhere though. The narratives switch every chapter and it took me some time to get use to the third person omniscient narration. The writing was not as smooth in that respect, but the dialogue is decent. Some of the characters show promise but there was a lot of time where I had to glaze over the idiots. There are one too many unlikable characters and most of them are rather one-note. They are one-note Chinese though.

    I enjoyed the book for the easy pace and I came to appreciate a lot of the customs, dialogue, food, and language in the book. I haven’t read a novel focussed around Asians like this in awhile and definitely not in this setting. This book has the most Cantonese in any Western book. It’s satirical and fun. By the end of it, I had become attached to some of the characters. The book is not going to win best literary award this year; however, I do think I will read the sequels between all my other non-fiction ones.

    Read July 2-3, 2018.