up – it’s been a rough and disappointing year, economically speaking. Rather than a recovery from the Great Recession, all we seem to have to look forward to is a long Great Economic Stagnation. In response, people are reading blogs about personal finance in record numbers, presumably to improve their own financial position, but surprisingly, books about personal finance have not been among the top 10 best sellers in any month this year, at least on the New York Times best seller list.
Instead, sales of books about the state and future of the American economy are at an all time high. It’s as if people know the best help for their finances will come from an improving economy. But when is that going to happen?
So what have been the best selling economic financial crisis books this year? Compiled from the New York Times Best Selling Non-Fiction list, here are the best sellers, month by month, up to now, and you can see how the national consciousness has gone from first trying to figure out what happened to how best to deal with it, or at least looking for hope that things will get better:
Who’s to blame for the financial crisis? Apparently, everybody. The year must have started with a collective mea culpa because Bethany McLean & Joe Nocera’s “All The Devils Are Here” was one of the top 10 financial crisis books of 2011. Feeling guilty? Well, look at it this way – the guy next to you? He’s probably more at fault than you. You can self-flagellate now by watching Bethany McLean below on CSpan:
February 2011. On The Brink
Want to know how it all REALLY went down in 2008-2009? Of course you do! Hank Paulson’s memoir “On The Brink” takes you right inside the Oval Office in those dark fall days of 2008. While it’s from Paulson’s own perspective, it shows you the titanic struggle that occurred between the titans of Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, and the entire U.S. government. James Pressley of Businessweek.com calls it “mesmerizing.”
March 2011. THE BIG SHORT
None of us saw it coming – none of us, except those who did. For some reason, in March, we were interested in those who did see it coming and this put Michael Lewis’ “The Big Short” in the top 10 on the New York Times bestsellers. It’s all about those who foresaw the crash of housing and made billions. The book is similar to Moneyball in that it’s about unconventional Wall Street Outsiders who saw what was about to happen on the inside. What made them so smart? Read the book!
April 2011. ATLAS SHRUGGED
Boy, if a book ever captured the zeitgeist of the times in April, it was Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” a book about the grand forces that rule our political and economic lives (at least according to Rand). This book has been a perennial best seller but it got a huge boost in April with the release of the long, Long, LONG awaited film:
May 2011. ONWARD
In May, it was clear there was going to be no “Recovery Summer” – again! Americans needed hope that somehow, someday, someway things can turn around, and they apparently found it in Howard Schultz & Joanne Gordon’s Onward. Onward tells the tale of how Schultz, the C.E.O. of Starbucks, turned the company around and returned it to prosperity. Schultz for President anyone? And – damn, that’s good coffee!
OK, at the beginning of summer, no one cared to read about the economy or money. Fair enough. So what did American’s head to the beach with? Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin’s SEAL TEAM SIX is a pretty damn riveting account of an elite Navy seal team sniper’s harrowing adventures in Mogadishu in 1993 (think “Black Hawk Down”). And Annie Jacobsen’s AREA 51? It’s less about aliens and more about developing top-secret espionage tools a al James Bond.
Here’s Annie on MSNBC’s News Live just before she was blown away – I’m kidding!
Did Seal Team Six have anything to do with blowing away you-know-who? You betcha!
Beach readers this July wanted to know: what the hell happen and who’s at fault? Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner’s “Reckless Endangerment” let them know by focusing on exactly how Wall Street crashed and highlights the individuals who drove it into the ground. How satisfying is this book? Everyone from Democracy Now to Rush Limbaugh gave it two thumbs up.
If you’re a big lefty, watch:
If you’re a big righty, watch:
Near the end of August, Mark Steyn’s apocalyptic AFTER AMERICA, hit the bestseller list, but only for a month. I guess everyone was depressed that summer vacation was over and they had to go back to work – if they had one. “After America” is just that – after it all falls apart, there won’t be an America. While the topic is all gloom and doom, Mark’s tone is actually witty and almost vaudevillian stand-up to keep you from running for the pills and razor blades. He also offers a solution of sorts — hint: if you’re a liberal democrat, you’re probably not going to like it. Just because the world is about to end doesn’t mean you can’t have a sense of humor about it. Catch Mark’s “it’s the end of the world” stand up routine below:
September 2011. THAT USED TO BE US
“US” as in “U.S.” Get It? Yeah, that used to be us, and not so long ago. The leaves are dying and so are we. This one hit the top 10 last month in September. Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum have written a great “we screwed up, everything sucks, we better get our act together before it’s too late and here’s how” national self-help book. But will policy makers in Washington D.C. listen? I think you know the answer to that. If you’re too broke to afford the book, you can watch Tom talk about “How America Lost Its Way in the World It Invented and How We Come Back” below:
October 2011. MONEYBALL.
The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. Feel like a loser? You’re not alone – but neither are you giving up. This October, just after the world series, Moneyball hit the top 10, mostly because of the just released film based on the book. But it is destined to become a classic because Moneyball tells the story of how Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s, turned one of the poorest ball clubs in the NBL into one of the league’s best. Americans, especially now, love stories about how an underdog finishes first and Moneyball hits a home run.