books

How Wizards Do Money: Parvati Patil

The best thing about going to Hogwarts was that her mother could no longer worry at her to stop slouching.

“You are so beautiful,” Parvati could hear, the over-emphasis disproving its own words. “Why are you hiding your own beauty?”

The truth was Parvati didn’t care. She was never into shoes, or dresses, or cosmetics. She loved the Gryffindor uniform because she didn’t have to make choices about all of that anymore. She could get up, plait her hair, and be ready to go.

When Dean Thomas whispered that Parvati was one of the best-looking girls in her year, Parvati glared at him and slouched harder. She went off to Hogsmeade with the Beauxbatons student later that night because he hadn’t said that to her; he’d actually said something that was interesting. Parvati found him to be less interesting as the night went on, so she checked off “dating” from her list of curiosities and stopped worrying about brushing her hair.

Later her mother would ask “but aren’t you meeting any nice boys?” and Parvati would reply “I’m learning advanced defensive fighting skills so I can be in a wizard army, I don’t have time to meet boys.”

Because of this, Parvati was spared the crush of weddings that all seemed to take place immediately after the Second Wizarding War. Hermione and Ron, Neville and Hannah, Harry and Ginny—that boy could lead an army, maybe, but he was a right git—her classmates paired off and she and Padma were left standing alone.

Then Padma immediately got hired by the Ministry, and Parvati was left alone. Her mother and father both began asking “don’t you want to get a job?”

The answer was no, but Parvati knew that wasn’t a good answer.

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$900 Craigslist Ticket to Lena Dunham’s NYC Book Reading Still Available

Now that Ask Polly has moved from The Awl to The Cut, I guess I’ve started reading The Cut.

Which is how I found out that there’s a man on Craigslist selling one ticket to Lena Dunham’s October 21 book reading at the Brooklyn Academy of Music… for $900.

Let’s back that up. Lena Dunham’s book Not That Kind of A Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” releases on September 30. The book tour—which The Cut described as “sort of a combination Q&A, concert, and episode of Girls“—is essentially sold out. As Gawker notes, there is “a thriving market for Dunham tickets across the country,” including this gentleman who is selling his $38 ticket to Dunham’s NYC performance for the hoped-for price of $900.

It gets better.

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Talking to Chris Guillebeau About His New Book, ‘The Happiness of Pursuit’

I have been a fan of Chris Guillebeau’s work for years. I took his Empire Building Kit course when I was starting my first ventures into entrepreneurship, and continued my education with his book The $100 Startup.

Chris’s newest book, The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose To Your Life, released last week. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy, and as soon as I finished reading the book I asked Chris if he’d be willing to answer two questions about his book for Billfold readers.

Nicole: I really liked that you were realistic about how much the various quests you profiled cost to complete, and that you offered low-cost or free alternative suggestions to readers who might want to do something like “walk across the United States” but not want to quit their jobs or not have the available funds. If people are worried about the monetary cost—or opportunity cost—of going on a quest, what advice do you have to help them in their decision-making?

Chris: Make no mistake: a quest should involve some kind of cost. If you believe in something and want to pursue it, it will inevitably involve some degree of tradeoff with something else. And that’s okay! It’s not a quest without cost, and it shouldn’t necessarily be easy.

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How Wizards Do Money: Fay Dunbar

It was strange how they hadn’t known it until after his death, and then how quickly it spread, the whispers traveling like creeper vine up into the dormitories: Dumbledore. Is. Gay.

“I mean, was gay,” Lavender said. “But it’s not like he dated anyone so it doesn’t matter.”

Parvati snorted. “Dumbledore wouldn’t date,” she said.

Fay sat on her bed, hugging her knees. Hermione looked up from her book. “They shouldn’t talk that way,” she said, and Fay nodded, and said nothing.

Ten years later, it was Padma next to her on the bed, reading a book. Padma read much more than Fay did; she’d go through a book a night, sometimes, neatly moving the finished volumes to their stacks by the door, to be taken back to the library. Fay held a book, sometimes, but mostly what she liked was to sit next to Padma in their bed, their ankles touching under the sheets, until she was ready to fall asleep.

Fay and Padma live together in an apartment near the Ministry. Both of them work there; Fay as an auror, and Padma in the research department. The Ministry is in fact where they found each other, both of them turning up at an event designed to welcome LGBT members, Fay feeling a little embarrassed to see Padma there and then wondering why she felt that way.

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On Reading Insecurity, E+L=M, and a Billfold Book Club Update

Yesterday, Slate ran a long and thoughtful post on reading insecurity: “the subjective experience of thinking that you’re not getting as much from reading as you used to.” Katy Waldman worries about what happens to us when we choose Facebook feeds over books or wonder why we don’t spend whole afternoons lost in novels the way we did when we were children.

I don’t know about you, but I read a lot. I’m also indiscriminate; I’ll spend an hour reading the new Anna Quindlen book and an hour reading the Captain Awkward archives and it’s all reading. I try not to feel badly when I pick a Facebook feed over a book because the Facebook feed is closer to what I actually need in the moment (usually, connection with friends; occasionally, schadenfreudy gossipy stuff—which is, by the way, another method of connecting with friends).

But longing for the days when I could read like I did as a child? NOPE. Today is so much better. I have an e-reader and a library connection. I can literally think of a book, type it into a search box, and begin reading it for free. Or I can browse the online stacks, follow reader recommendations, download books to my e-reader, read the first 10 pages of each, and return anything I don’t like.

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How Wizards Do Money: Angelina Johnson

Angelina is going to be with her father until he dies.

She got the owl while her family was in the Patagonia Desert watching the Quidditch World Cup. She got several owls, and sent a few in return, stepping outside of the arena and flicking away a beetle that kept trying to crawl onto the letter she was writing.

Of course she would be there. She’d apparate immediately. And she would stay.

When Angelina’s father first became ill, she felt that uncomfortable pull of responsibilities: her children, her husband, the business she and George shared, her father.

All right, let the business go, George and Ron can manage it for a while. So: her children, her husband, her father.

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The Next Billfold Book Club Book is ‘North and South’

When we were discussing Billfold Book Club suggestions the other day, the two books that rose to the top were Dickens’ Bleak House and Gaskell’s North and South.

Everyone who voted Bleak House asked for a few months to finish reading it.

So we’ll start with North and South.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South is a story of workers vs. employers, morals vs. profits, and smoldering passions vs. even more smoldering passions. It is also public domain, which means you can read it on your e-reader or listen to the LibriVox audiobook version on your e-listener for free!

North and South is not exactly a short novel, so I think we should have a bit of extra time to read it. How does Thursday, October 16 feel for everyone? Or would you prefer to chop the book up into sections and discuss a few chapters every month until the end of the year?

Also: yes, there is a PBS miniseries starring Richard Armitage. We will have to figure out how to watch that simultaneously while doing a Google Chat or something. It’s on the GTD list.

Yay Book Club! Y’all are my favorite Book Club, and I am so excited to read this book.

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Randall Munroe Proves What Would Happen If You Had All The Money In The World

It should come as no surprise, especially after yesterday’s How Wizards Do Money piece, that I’m an XKCD fan.

If you are only a casual XKCD reader, you might not know that for the past two years—wait, two years? how can it be two years already—XKCD webcomic artist Randall Munroe has been running a second project titled What If, in which he answers reader questions such as “At what speed would you have to drive for rain to shatter your windshield?”

This week’s What If is “What would happen if one person had all the world’s money?” I won’t give away Randall Munroe’s response, but I will warn you: like most What If answers, it ends badly. (We can spoil the answer and discuss it in the comments.)

Also, the official What If book, What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, released yesterday. I don’t know if it contains additional absurd hypothetical questions about money, but I do know now that asking for all the money in the world is a very bad idea.

Photo: Linus Bohman

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A City that Drives You So Crazy, You Buy a $4,000 Jacket

Our pal Mary H.K. Choi has a collection of five essays about leaving New York (but, it is, of course, more than that), which you can buy in the form of a Kindle single for $1.99.

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Help Choose the Next Installment of the Billfold Book (or Maybe Miniseries) Club

During our last Billfold Book Club session, it was proposed that we choose a fiction book this time and discuss how the characters handle money.

I am all for this.

My first suggestion was, of course, Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, because oh-my-goodness does that book deal with a bunch of characters who don’t know how to handle money, and then y’all upped me by suggesting the BBC Bleak House miniseries, which has the advantage of featuring Gillian Anderson and Charles Dance (aka Tywin Lannister) in lead roles and also has the advantage of not being an occasionally interminable Dickens novel. (For every mention of a megalosaurus marching down the streets of London, Dickens has to throw in an interminable passage, just to keep us off our toes.)

So I am 100% all for watching a miniseries.

Mike Dang suggested Emily Gould’s Friendship, which features the description “As Bev and Amy are dragged, kicking and screaming, into real adulthood, they have to face the possibility that growing up might mean growing apart.” (This is no fresh-outta-college story; they’re in their 30s.)

I am also 100% ready to read Friendship.

But I’m turning the remainder of the suggestions over to you: what work of fiction would you like to discuss?

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