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A One Night Stand With Michael Lewis.

I asked a good reading friend the other day if Michael Lewis was a lightweight. The response: “Uh, yeah, pretty much”.

Okay. Shoot.
Not the response I was hoping for.

For those of you following along, I’m very suspicious of books that climb to the top of the bestseller lists (see? look! Solar by Ian McEwan is at #1 though it got panned by nearly everyone who reviewed it…)

And there is Michael Lewis, sitting pretty at the top of the list, being bought at an unprecedented pace. It took me 3 bookstores to get my copy.

So, rather than be a hypocrite (sooo distasteful), I decided to simply make an arbitrary new rule (of course, creative and fun).

New rule, people.

Everyone gets a “Celebrity Exemption” on BookSnob. You know, the Celebrity Exemption is the celebrity you would sleep with if you broke your marriage vows, and got a hall pass for one steamy night. (Answer: Jake Gyllenhaal, George Clooney, Mark Ruffalo, Bradley Cooper. Oh wait? Is it only one? Woops, sorry hon.)

Okay, well, I digress.

If we are going to be picky about books, let’s face it, we all are going to need a BookSnob Exemption from time to time.

I pick Michael Lewis.
I really don’t care if he’s a lightweight. Because he is damn entertaining.

Lewis is a consummate storyteller. I can tell you that first hand. In a past life, I actually hired him to speak at my then company’s corporate event. He came and actually played Liar’s Poker with the attendees in the evening and the next day, dazzled us with tales of how Billy Beane begged him to cut the swearing from Moneyball because his mother would not approve. He was mesmerizing and charming. One hour with Lewis was not long enough.

No doubt many of you are exposed to him through the recent The Blind Side (based on his book of the same name). But Liar’s Poker & Moneyball are just great tales. I am deep into The Big Short and remembering why I so love his books.

Midnight, 12:30a, 1:00a.
Ug! Put it down!

Lewis has this uncanny knack of delivering a very detailed analysis of an industry or a topic by breaking it down into digestible chunks. He makes you want to know more. I am not a financial industry lightweight, but the mortgage industry does get hopelessly confusing (not to mention dreadfully dull), but I am following along, people. Because Lewis doesn’t just go deep on subprime mortgages and CMOs–he lets the people involved tell the tale. He captures the human side of the story. He gives you plenty of facts, but somehow really makes you care.

You want to have some scary details about how our financial markets were hopelessly intertwined and all generally riding on the ‘greater fool’ theory–read this book. It’s fascinating. It plays like a sequel to Liar’s Poker–the steamy underbelly of Solomon Brothers, the bond department, lives another day!

Plus, Michael Lewis is funny. Oh, and I am a sucker for funny men. The proof is in this quick NPR podcast. He’s self-effacing. He has a sincere laugh. He seems like the kind of guy who would be fun to have a beer with and…ahem, discuss the book with.

Who’s your BookSnob exemption?
Your secret, guilty, decidedly unsnobbish reading pleasure?


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