Financial Literacy for Beginners: A Reading List

One of my goals for this year was to become more financially literate and I decided to use a resource that I often turn to: books! As more of a words person, I typically find any discussion of math and numbers completely boring and hard to grasp. Nevertheless, I endured to find books that would at least grab my attention and keep me focused as I wanted to feel more knowledgeable about my finances. With this list, I hope that at least one of these books will be useful no matter where you are in your own journey with finance and money. This list is not exhaustive by any means (nor do I think it is the best one out there!) but if any of these titles pique your interest, you can follow the links in this post to the VPL catalogue where you can request it for yourself. If there are any books that you especially recommend on the subject of personal finance, please feel free to comment below and let me know what I should read next!

A Canadian’s Guide to Money-Smart Living by Kelley Keehn and Alex Fisher: This book was created between the partnership of a financial educator and CPA Canada. A lot of finance books are written for an American audience so it’s always nice to find something specifically targeting Canadians. This book walks you through all of the basic information you need to learn more about your finances and how personal finances work. Though I read this book more recently than other books on this list, I still learned a lot and I found that the book really explains basic concepts in a succinct and understandable way. It doesn’t necessarily teach you how to budget or the best stocks to invest in but it does teach you all the basic financial concepts so you can get an understanding of where to start and what you need. For example, it covers credit scores, mortgages, insurance (did you know house fraud is a thing?!) and even talks about how to have money conversations with family members. I would recommend it for people who have always felt that they don’t know or understand financial concepts as well as they should.

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May Reading Challenge

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May Reading Challenge: Read a book that was adapted into a movie or TV series.

When I’ve just finished reading a really dramatic, or emotional, or action-packed novel, I often think to myself… but what would it look like on screen? And clearly I’m not the only one who has this instinct! There’s an entire Oscar category for Best Adapted Screenplay, which doesn’t always been adapted from a book… but often does. When you really love a book, there’s something magical about hearing your favourite quote being recited by a famous actor, or seeing a larger-than-life action scene projected onto the big screen.

This challenge will have us take a step back and read the book that was the inspiration and source material for a book or movie adaptation. They say the book is always better, and this is your chance to find out! Here is a list of recommended reads in this category – although, of course, there are hundreds of books that would meet this criteria and you are more than welcome to read something not on this list, too!

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) : Lee, Min Jin: Amazon.ca: Books
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An Evening with Marissa Stapley, Author of the Reese Book Club Dec’21 Pick

I’m so excited that Marissa Stapley, the author of Lucky—the Reese Book Club Dec’21 Pick, will be visiting the Vaughan Public Libraries via Zoom on May 26, 7:00 pm. Tickets will be on sale starting May 5 on Eventbrite. You are very welcome to join us for an evening of great conversation with Marissa!

I have to say this is such a page-turning, fun read. We are so busy these days and have to squeeze time to read. As entertainment goes, we often turn to the screen for instant gratification. But Lucky reminds us that reading can be fun and satisfying, too!  

What makes Lucky so fun? First, it’s a con-artist story. No one likes liars, swindlers, or grifters in real life—look at the damages Bernie Madoff and Elizabeth Holmes had done! But it’s a totally different story in books and movies. The con artists portrayed in pop culture are often magnetic, whether we like them or not. From The Talented Mr. Ripley to Catch Me If You Can to My Friend Anna, all these books were made into theatre or streaming service hits. And Lucky has also just been auctioned for a TV series!  Why do we like con-artist stories? Maybe 99% of us like the idea of Robin Hood robbing the rich and helping the poor; or, since we can’t read anyone else’s mind, we are curious about people’s psychology in confidence games?  I can’t tell you anything new about why we love con-artist stories, but I’m sure Marissa will be able to share her insights. She has done lots of research on grifting :).

But no matter how interesting a topic is, it needs a skilled writer to craft a good story. Marissa has proved her as a great storyteller in Lucky. The unclaimed lotto ticket idea is genius. Though Marissa humbly credits the DJ who gave her this idea, she successfully develops a storyline that grips the readers from the beginning to the end. All parts come together tightly but it doesn’t feel rushed. The past and present parallel narratives is very smart. The strategy definitely helps shape Lucky’s back story and draw out readers’ empathy for her. Lucky is believable, not cliché, and most importantly, fun!

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