Musings on Capital

Are you like me and always read the acknowledgements and author biography? I love seeing who is thanked, who is loved and who is appreciated. “Thanks to my creative writing class” always makes me feel a bit nervous, but an author thanking family and friends warms my heart. The other thing I like to look at is the author photo. This brings me to John Lanchester, author of Capital, he has an interesting friendly face and I immediately wanted to enjoy his book , and enjoy it I did.

Lanchester uses Pepys Street, a fictional street in London to introduce us to a multitude of people who either live, visit or work within its boundaries. Pepys Street houses are the domain of the upwardly mobile, but the people who work there – nannies, shop owners, builders or meter readers – are new immigrants.  This book contains a huge number of characters which could be off-putting, but it is worth persevering as each character is finely detailed and it doesn’t take long to have a vested interest in each of their lives.

The title is a clever link to London being a capital city and the capital within in, both in human and financial terms. The common link is that each household starts receiving flyers saying “We want what you have”, and the mystery behind these increasingly sinister messages is one of the intrigues that holds this book together, alongside the disparity between those who own the houses and those who work for them, those who are English-born and or are new to the country, those who control the city finances and those who reap the cash rewards or who suffer the consequences of bad decisions.

Capital is a big book about big topics.  I became involved in each character’s story, but I especially enjoyed the Banksy like character,  and the  local Indian shop-owner’s family, both of whom become implicated in the mysterious fliers. It is a book that is worth taking time to come to grips with, and it would be a good candidate for a mid winter holiday read.

That time of year again!

book coverUnbelievable how quickly the financial year rolls round, isn’t it? No sooner have you packed away the final accounts and neatly filed invoices (I wish) for the previous year, than March is here again and it’s time to wade through a whole new pile of bank statements.

If you’d like to save money on accountant’s fees or tax refund specialist charges by filing your own return there is help available.

Christchurch City Libraries’ tax page is a great place to start. There’s information about filing returns and links to the IRD to find out if you will get tax back.  Teens can keep up-to-date about workplace rights and tax responsibilities.

Gareth Morgan’s recent book, The Big Kahuna, gives an interesting perspective on the purpose of tax and the distribution of wealth in New Zealand. It’s content that affects Kiwi taxpayers – and, let’s face it, that’s pretty much all of us.

Financing your study: How the library can help

CoverOne of the biggest factors when people consider returning to study is how on earth they might pay for it.

Financing your study is a guide on The Pulse which  links to lots of web resources  – from scholarships and grants to loans and allowances. It’s aimed at teenagers, but will be useful for anyone considering returning to study.

See also:

And feel free to share your best money-saving tip for prospective students!

How to make Jam while the financial system collapses

Trillion dollar meltdown
Trillion dollar meltdown

In a recent article from the Guardian Weekly publishers talked about how they will keep going during the financial crisis, and this Christmas we can therefore look forward to a good amount of “thrifty” titles.  Examples of this are the republication of Delia Smith’s classic, Frugal Food, alongside the ever popular India Knight showing us that a gal can still look glam, while saving money at the same time, in her book, The Thrift Book: Live well and spend less.

Not to be outdone the fiction market is also thinking how best to capitalise on the downturn.  Crime fiction and thrillers still hoof it out the door as people crave losing themselves and escaping from reality.  If romance is more your thing, then Mills and Boon also report an upsurge in sales when times are tough – dreaming of sheiks and thrilling Italians is far preferable than how to pay the mortgage.

If you prefer taking the moral high ground, then you could read The Trillion dollar meltdown : easy money, high rollers, and the great credit crash by Charles Morris.  This was published earlier in the year and predicted the financial crash. 

Apparently publishers are now going through bucketloads of proposals and submissions from various authors on subjects as diverse as how to make your own jam, to reasons why Wall Street crashed, (and I’m sure there will be a few self help books thrown in for good measure), so there is no doubt that we can look forward to plenty of opinions and finger pointing in the next few months