5 Nonfiction Choices to Make You Smarter over Summer Vacation
- Shanna Wilson
- July 15, 2014
Money Magazine writer Michael Lewis and former treasury secretary Timothy Geithner may have turned this summer’s bestseller list into something of an ECON 101 syllabus, but there are plenty of other informative titles out there, too. So even if you usually keep your warm-weather options on the light side, try one of these fascinating titles anyway. You just might learn something.
- Flash Boys by Michael Lewis. If latency arbitrage and flash trading are your bag, Lewis’ fast-paced tale of financial corruption at its height is for you. In it, a group of Wall Street do-gooders realizes the markets have been rigged for insiders and are more controlled than ever by the likes of Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. It could make you even angrier at Wall Street greed — or perhaps overjoyed that the very people who work there are finally calling a trade a spade.
- Stress Test by Timothy Geithner. Geithner takes a self-deprecating look inward at his lack of “gray-haired gravitas” required to run the U.S. Treasury. He mulls over the five looming financial bombs he was summoned to defuse — AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bank of America, and Citigroup — and the fact that he had no real idea of how to do it. Americans lost 16 percent of their wealth in 2008, a year marked by falling home prices, crashing stocks, and rising unemployment rates. With the recession in full swing, Geithner found himself at the center of a moving storm — often being called upon to provide counsel about an economic catastrophe few knew how to manage. It’s doorstop thick and heavy on the political banter, but Geithner’s account of a time many would like to forget is a behind-the-scenes study of the dos and don’ts of global crisis management.
- Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage by Molly Wizenberg. Longtime fans of Wizenberg’s popular food blog, Orangette, can rest assured. Her absence from the blog scene in recent months was in the name of Delancey, the sequel to her first memoir, A Homemade Life. Picking up where the inaugural volume left off, Delancey describes how Molly and her husband, Brandon, share (and despair over) a vision of opening a communal neighborhood restaurant amid the cooler-than-thou Seattle food scene. Her honesty is steady and fair as she explores the difficulties, unexpected setbacks, and ultimate fulfillment of running a successful local business.
- My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff. In this charming memoir, Rakoff looks back on her post-grad year as an assistant at one of the oldest literary agencies in Manhattan, where she finds herself answering the phone on several occasions and encountering the legendarily reclusive J.D. Salinger on the other end. Her own coming of age parallels the angst and wonder of Holden Caulfield’s in this endearing look at career beginnings and the ways in which fictional characters’ lives shape our own.
- The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014 by Carlotta Gall. Like
Dexter Filkins and Peter Bergen before her, Gall chronicles more than a decade
as a journalist on the ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan with a rare and
intimate perspective that takes years to exact. She takes readers inside the
personalities of Taliban leaders Mullah Omar and five others still imprisoned
at Guantanamo Bay. She traces the timeline of events from September 11, 2001,
through the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, all the while illuminating the role
the Pakistani government played in aiding the Taliban and, ultimately,
harboring Osama Bin Laden. While America spent a decade, countless defense dollars,
and thousands of lives trying to bring the guilty to justice, Gall believes the
real enemy got off easy.
What are your favorite nonfiction reads (for summer or otherwise)? Tell us about them in the comments section below!