30 Best True Crime Books

My reading tastes run wild. Some days I am all into historical fiction, the next day some epic sci-fi grabs my attention. But one genre that has always interested me is true crime. Here is my list of 30 best true crime books in no particular order.

1. The Innocent Man by John Grisham

2. The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

3. Portrait of a Killer by Patricia Cornwell

4. Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi

5. People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Perry

6. Forensics by Val McDermid

7. A Wilderness of Error by Errol Morris

8. How to Get Away with Murder in America by Evan Wright

9. Lost Girls by Robert Kolker

10. Homicide by David Simon

11. Devil’s Knot by Mara Leveritt

12. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

13. Mind Hunter by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker

14. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

15. Columbine by Dave Cullen

16. Fatal Vision by Joe McGinniss

17. The Last Victim by Jason Moss

18. Small Sacrifices by Ann Rule

19. American Desperado by Jon Roberts and Evan Wright

20. The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort

21. Echoes in the Darkness by Joseph Wambaugh

22. Blood and Money by Thomas Thompson

23. Donnie Brasco by Joseph D. Pistone

24. A Different Class of Murder by Laura Thompson

25. Zodiac by Robert Graysmith

26. Bitter Harvest by Ann Rule

27. The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber

28. Deviant by Harold Schechter

29. Perfect Victim by Carla Norton

30. Deranged by Harold Schechter

Happy Reading,

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20 Best Science Fiction Writers

Some of the best literature available in regards to creativity is science fiction. The breadth of characters and scenery is mind-blowing. The plot developments often result in a stand-alone novel turning into a series of novels. Below is my list of the best 20 science fiction writers.

1. Arthur C. Clarke

2. Isaac Asimov

3. Robert A. Heinlein

4. Ray Bradbury

5. Neil Gaiman

6. Ursula K. Le Guin

7. Marion Zimmer Bradley

8. Brandon Sanderson

9. Robert Jordan aka Robert Howard

10. Terry Brooks

11. Terry Pratchett

12. Neal Stephenson

13. Larry Niven

14. Jules Verne

15. H. G. Wells

16. J.R.R. Tolkien

17. Frank Herbert

18. George Orwell

19. Philip K. Dick

20. Michael Crichton

Let me know what you think about my list and add to it.

Happy Reading,

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 630 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 11 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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The Intelligent Investor

The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing by Benjamin Graham

The father of value investing, Benjamin Graham, wrote a powerful and insight book that has changed the way individuals invest their money. The basic premise in value investing is not to look for the quick changing high payout stocks but rather to focus on long-term investment strategies. This same strategy is the one used by Warren Buffett and look where he, and Berkshire Hathaway clients, is today.

I thought about dabbling in the world of the stock market and thought I needed more education before I sunk my teeth into this world. Enter Benjamin Graham and The Intelligent Investor. This book opened my eyes to a new and valuable understanding of the stock market. It also introduced me to how people can make substantial amounts of money investing correctly. Armed with the right information, any new investor can succeed in the markets.

Graham’s book covers a variety of topics including investment versus speculator; inflation and the investor; the defensive investor; the enterprising investor; market fluctuations; investment funds; and a whole lot of comparisons and valuable information. Nearly 600 pages of valuable information that any stock investor should be aware of.

This books information is dated as it was published in 2003 but the premise is a sound today as it was in 1949 when Graham first published this work. Numerous famous companies provide examples throughout the book to give real world analysis of value investing strategies. Companies like ALCOA, Coca-cola, General Motors, IBM, McGraw-Hill, Penn Central Railroad, Sears Roebuck, Standard Oil of California, Standard Oil of New Jersey, Wal-mart and Yahoo.

I never did invest money into the stock market directly; I decided to go a safer route through mutual funds. There is something inherently risky about the stock market, which did not suit my investment purposes. That is not to say that mutual funds are risk free because they are not. To me, mutual funds are a safer investment vehicle because they rely not on a single stock but rather many different stocks to make up the portfolio.

Anybody interested in value investing should read this book. In fact, I would suggest that anybody contemplating investing any money in any investment vehicle should read this before they invest. I know I am happy to have read this book before making any investments.

Happy Reading,

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Its Earnings that Count

Its Earnings that Count: Finding Stocks with Earnings Power for Long-term Profits by Hewitt Heiserman, Jr.

How many investors have been caught in the growth stock trap and have paid the price for their faulty investment strategy? How much money have these types of investors squandered away because of their greed? Heiserman takes the same investing strategy approach that all successful stock investor have taken: the value investment strategy espoused by Benjamin Graham.

Like Graham’s book The Intelligent Investor, Heiserman sets the intelligent investor as one who establishes both defensive and enterprising income statements in conjunction with the businesses accrual income statement to create the Earnings Power Chart. If the company in question shows promise on the Earnings Power Chart, Heiserman thinks that the investor should be safe in making that investment for long-term growth and profitability. I think his evaluation has a lot of merit.

Although the idea of buy-and-hold stock investing is nothing new, the investor has to hold the right stocks. Heiserman provides a great example of a stock purchased by his grandfather, passed along to his wife when he died and to him when his grandmother died years later. The stocks had not improved in the slightest over nearly 50 years!

I found this book an easier read that the Graham book. This book contains many charts and graphs to help the reader understand the complexities of this stock selection process. Nevertheless, Heiserman suggests that completing the Earning Power Chart is a necessary process that all investors should engage in prior to making any investment decisions. Do you think Buffett makes any type of investment in a company without his due diligence coming into play? Of course not, so why should us lowly investors behave any differently? There is an obvious reason why Buffett is worth billions of dollars! I think I will follow Buffett’s lead here and invest as he does.

Investing money is a risky business at the best of time so please take all the steps necessary to protect yourself and your investment. Gain any education or knowledge about investing in general that you need or desire, invest some time in understanding balance statements and accounting methods, understand the role of buy-and-hold investing strategies, and ensure that the company you are interested in has more than just good growth rate numbers. Invest wisely.

Happy Reading,

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Marketing Insights from A to Z

Marketing Insights from A to Z: 80 Concepts Every Manager Needs to Know by Philip Kotler

In the world of marketing there is no other individual who demands as much recognition and praise as Philip Kotler. When his person utters something about marketing, people stop whatever they are doing and listen to the master. Why? Because this is a man who knows marketing like nobody else on the planet.

I bought this book because I was asked to be part of a working committee looking at improving or revamping the company’s existing marketing structure. I had no experience with marketing before that time and needed to get myself up to speed as quickly as possible. I went to the local bookstore and started scanning the voluminous stacks of marketing books. This book was highlighted on a display so I looked. I cracked the cover and started reading a random page. Five minutes later, I had finished reading that specific section and understood exactly what he was talking about. I bought the book and left the shop thankful for fining some marketing book that I could understand and use effectively.

There are 80 critical marketing concepts included in this book that are important in marketing today. Concepts like advertising, branding, B2B marketing, competitive advantage, creativity, CRM, entrepreneurship, growth strategies, internet and e-business, marketing mix, price, sales promotion, and word of mouth are discussed. Each concept is easy to understand through many real-life examples.

It took me some time to get through the book as all of this information was brand new to me and I wanted to completely understand the information. I was able to provide great ideas and examples to my working committee because of this book.  I had to thank Kotler for giving me the information I needed.

Reading a marketing book was not my idea of fun but for the purpose I needed the book for, I would suggest no other author or title.

Happy Reading,

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Proactive Selling

Proactive Selling: Control the Process – Win the Sale by William Miller

Not all buyers behave the same way is the main idea behind this book. Miller wants the sales force to understand that there is no cookie cutter pattern to achieving great sales results because buyers are individuals and need to be treated like individual buyers.

Divided into eleven chapters covering topics like having the right tools at the right time, beginning and ending every sales call, educating customers, closing the sales deal, applying proactive selling techniques, and managing the proactive selling process.

All of this information seems common sense to me but I understand why books like this exist. Selling products to people requires a great understanding of what motivates people to buy stuff. If somebody who does not know the product line well serves me, why would I buy that product from that sales person? If I want to buy some product and the salesperson could not be bothered in assisting me, then why would I continue to shop there? If a seller who is trying to push a particular line of products and not listening to my wants approaches me, then why would I buy anything? If I have a sales person who is concerned about what I want and the best product that will fulfill my needs and wants, then I will probably do business with them because they have proved themselves good sales staff.

Miller coaches the reader through the intricacies of making the sale from the sales staff point-of-view. There are numerous examples of how the sales staff can fall down and lose the sale and how the sales staff can correct those mistakes to ensure the successful sale.

Reading sales book is not my idea of fun but I did find the information contained within to be useful.

Happy Reading,

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The World’s Greatest Unsolved Mysteries

The World’s Greatest Unsolved Mysteries: Disappearances, Death, Assassination, and Tragedy Unknown, Unsolved by Chancellor Press

How many people have heard of Jerry Schneider and why he is famous? What about the mysterious circumstances of Michael Hutchence’s death in 1997? What exactly happened in the death of Princess Diana and who should be blamed for causing that death?

This is a book filled with strange, mysterious and mostly unsolved crimes. It is broken into nine sections including crimes without call, crimes of our times, crimes of avarice, vanishing tricks, murder most foul, a question of murder, whodunit?, We’ll never know, and ghostly mysteries. Most of the stories included in this book are relatively short, usually about 2 – 3 pages. Their brevity takes nothing away from the mystery of the incident or event in any way. The story of Jack the Ripper is probably the longest story in the entire compilation at ten pages.

Many of these stories I have never heard of. Jerry Schneider is famous for defrauding the master computer at Pacific Bell Telephone Company to the tune of one million dollars in 1972. The case is still unsolved and Jerry is the only person who knows what he did as there is no computer trace to investigate.

Michael Hutchence died in 1997 under supposedly mysterious circumstances yet the coroner declared his death a suicide by hanging. Yet two hours earlier two friends left the hotel and Hutchence was fine or so they say. Some suggested his death was due to autoerotic suffocation with these two people. When he accidentally died, they bolted instead of staying and explaining what had occurred.

Diana died at the end of August 1997 is circumstances that are still debated today. Was the driver of the car Henri Paul responsible (he was legally drunk at the time)? Were the paparazzi following Diana responsible for the crash that killed three people? Was there another vehicle involved with the crash as the evidence suggests? So many questions and so few answers.

These are the kinds of stories you will find in this book. Not the best book ever compiled about the strange and mysterious but an interesting and enjoyable read nonetheless. If you get a chance to give it a read, I would suggest you do.

Happy Reading,

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The Journey through Wales / The Description of Wales

The Journey through Wales / The Description of Wales by Gerald of Wales

Gerald of Wales wrote such a detailed account of his travels through Wales in 1188 that scholars are still using his material as primary documentation. Added to The Journey is The Description of Wales highlighting the daily living, social and economic conditions of people in Wales at this time.

Gerald’s ambition was to become Archbishop of Wales; this never came to fruition. He knew everybody that there was to know in Wales and England of the day. Although he was born in Wales, there does not seem to be any record of Gerald being able to speak Welsh. When he preached in Wales, he used Latin and French not Welsh. What about when he had dealings with the Welsh princes? Wales was not a backwards as many historians like to imagine and many of the more important Welsh rulers could communicate effectively in either Latin or French as well as in English and Welsh. Therefore, I am sure that any dealings between the two parties would have been conducted easily.

I found The Journey to be an interesting travel diary kept by Gerald on his missionary travels. I found The Description equally interesting, as this is a firsthand account of what life was like in Wales in the late 1180s during the reign of Richard the Lionhearted. I usually find primary documents boring and mind numbing to read yet these two books found a special place in my heart. Maybe that is the Welsh pride coming out.

The Journey and The Description both almost read like a Who’s Who of medieval England and Wales. Archbishop Baldwin of Canterbury, Saint Thomas Becket, Cadwaladr ap Gruffyd ap Cynan, Dafydd ab Owain Gwynedd, Bishop David FitzGerald of St. David’s, Gruffydd ap Rhys ap Tewdwr, William Longchamp, Empress Matilda, Earl Hugh Montgomery of Shrewsbury, and so many others.

Overall, if you have any interest in Wales in particular or medieval English history in general, then I would suggest you give this a good read.

Happy Reading,

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Prescription for Nutritional Healing

Prescription for Nutritional Healing: The A-to-Z Guide to Supplements by Phyllis A. Balch

I have read a number of nutrition books over the last few years but this book by Balch ranks at the top of the pile in my estimation. The vast amount of useful and relevant information contained within the cover is astounding. Every nutritionist should have a copy of this book on his or her bookshelf. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that anybody interested in improving his or her health through nutrition should have a copy of this book. There are more than 1.75 million copies of this book in print; that speaks volumes about the benefits this book provides readers.

Balch discusses how nutrition, diet and wellness are entwined in creating good health. There is great material covering vitamins, minerals, air quality, water, amino acids, antioxidants, enzymes, natural food supplements, herbs, and drug interactions we should aware of.

Let us look at how Balch presents this information. Take vitamins for example. First, she gives us a general understanding of the role of the item in question. Then she tells us where we can find that item in the foods we eat. She also provides any comments and cautions that we need to be aware of. Vitamin D is necessary for bodily absorption of calcium and phosphorous, necessary for growth and many other things. Some of the best sources of Vitamin D are fatty saltwater fish, dairy products and eggs. But be careful taking too much Vitamin D (more than 1000 IU daily) as it will decrease bone mass.

This book has been one of the biggest and best information sources that I have read about healing with nutrition. Some of the other books that I have do present information better is some areas and are weaker in others. This tome is strong throughout the entire length.

This is definitely one nutrition book everybody should have.

Happy Reading,

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