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On Book Reviewing

Piles of books.  Many piles of books.  If you begin to do a lot of book reviews, you get a lot of books.

Let me describe the piles:

  1. One foot to the left of me is a pile of 13 unread books.  After I finish reading a book, and put it into the “Write about,” or “Maybe write about” piles, I choose a book from the pile to read.  Whatever seems most interesting I read next.
  2. Two feet to my right is the “Write about” pile.  You will see those written up here.  There are six books there.
  3. Three feet to my left are two piles of about 25 books each of books that I have reviewed, or rejected.  Mostly, they have been reviewed.
  4. Five feet to my left are 23 books that I have fully read but will not review.  I hand out unfavorable reviews rarely.  Roughly half of the books are okay, but they are nothing great.  The rest are harmful, boring, etc.
  5. 30 feet behind me, in my bedroom, I have a whole bookcase holding books that I have reviewed.

When I started writing at Aleph Blog, I had no intention of doing a lot of book reviews.  It has worked out to be 9% of all of my posts, which is pretty significant.  I never dreamed that I would be a highly-ranked reviewer at Amazon.com — I’m in the top 2000, and I appreciate what votes my readers give me.

I get books four ways:

  1. They come unsolicited.
  2. The publisher contacts me, and asks me if I want a given book.
  3. I ask the publisher for a book, and they send it to me.
  4. I add books to my Amazon wish list, and buy them when my kids have a small order, in order to get free shipping.

Which brings up pile six, two feet to the left of me, books that I have purchased, but I have not read.  This competes with pile one.  I try to read the most interesting book at my disposal so that I can write the most useful stuff for my readers.

If I think of more, I will write a second part to this post, but that is all for now.

 






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2 Responses to On Book Reviewing

  1. [...] David Merkel on the backstory of his book reviews.  (AlephBlog) [...]

  2. Doug says:

    David, when do you have time to re-read the classics? Not just investment classics (Graham & Dodd, Bodie, Kane & Markus, Intelligent Investor), but also the classics of life (Homer, Plato, Augustine, Dickens, Tolkein)? Not to mention the Book of Books!

    As an investor and a homeschool dad I am constantly adjusting my reading list. I *have* to stay current, but so much that is written today is a poor derivative of some timeless truth that has been told elsewhere, more eloquently, and more accurately. We are *always* adjusting our own reading lists, but we keep coming back to the Classics.

    So many books, so little time.

Disclaimer


David Merkel is an investment professional, and like every investment professional, he makes mistakes. David encourages you to do your own independent "due diligence" on any idea that he talks about, because he could be wrong. Nothing written here, at RealMoney, Wall Street All-Stars, or anywhere else David may write is an invitation to buy or sell any particular security; at most, David is handing out educated guesses as to what the markets may do. David is fond of saying, "The markets always find a new way to make a fool out of you," and so he encourages caution in investing. Risk control wins the game in the long run, not bold moves. Even the best strategies of the past fail, sometimes spectacularly, when you least expect it. David is not immune to that, so please understand that any past success of his will be probably be followed by failures.


Also, though David runs Aleph Investments, LLC, this blog is not a part of that business. This blog exists to educate investors, and give something back. It is not intended as advertisement for Aleph Investments; David is not soliciting business through it. When David, or a client of David's has an interest in a security mentioned, full disclosure will be given, as has been past practice for all that David does on the web. Disclosure is the breakfast of champions.


Additionally, David may occasionally write about accounting, actuarial, insurance, and tax topics, but nothing written here, at RealMoney, or anywhere else is meant to be formal "advice" in those areas. Consult a reputable professional in those areas to get personal, tailored advice that meets the specialized needs that David can have no knowledge of.

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