Darwin’s Summer Book Reading List

by Darwin on July 19, 2011

Here’s a list of books I either read recently, I’m currently reading, or I’d love to read this summer.  I’d be interested in hearing your favorite picks as well.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine – There are tons of books out by now on the housing crash, Wall Street crash and such, but this is by far the most entertaining and engaging that I’ve come across.  Written by Michael Lewis, the author of Liar’s Poker and several others, he takes us through some extremely intense and colorful characters ranging from the autistic savant that figured out how to short housing derivatives to the slimeballs that peddled junk and profited along the way knowing it would surely crash eventually.  It was a real engaging read, quite hilarious at times given the eccentric nature of some of these characters.

I recommend it over just watching the likes of Too Big to Fail on HBO (which was good as well, but doesn’t compare to this) or Wall Street 2 which was quite boring.


The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon– This is one of the most incredible stories I have ever read.  True story by the way.

The cool part is there’s a movie in the works already and I heard a rumor it might be Brad Pitt for all the ladies…but anyway, it’s cool to read a book before the movie and then, if you’re like me, you’ll point out all the discrepancies and what you would have done differently.  Occasionally, they get it right.



The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (P.S.) – Of course Darwin has an evolutionary/anthropology-type book in the collection.  This book by the famous Jared Diamond who wrote one of my favorite books Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies outlines some pretty incredible comparisons across various creatures and compares how we got to be…human.

If you’re the ultra-religious type and were brainwashed at an early age that “evolution is just a theory” and millions of species of all sorts of creatures just appeared on Earth one day in the blink of an eye, dinosaurs never existed, etc., it would be worth your while to at least read this one and broaden your knowledge.  You’ll find that we’re all related and some very obvious and clear paths of evolution that got us where we are.  It’s tough to argue with the facts after reading this!


Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions – Great coffee table book – your friends and family will laugh out loud reading some of the excerpts which are pretty much 1 page each.

Contrary to your initial reaction, no, it’s not a racist book; it’s a really funny take on the goofy stuff white people do to try to be hip, try to “look” like they’re accepting of other races and religions, and so on.

Examples include 1)  how white people just LOVE coffee and always talk about how they’re “Jones’n for a coffee, etc.” , 2) white Christians who wanna seem cool, taking on a religion they weren’t born into like mystical Judaism and Hindu, etc., 3) film festivals (so trendy), 4) Barrack Obama (this one was funny, a bit dated but remember the euphoria of the hip crowd?) and more.

It’s funny – and soooooo true!!!!

As far as what I’d like to read next, I’m thinking about a good inspirational/educational business book or personal finance book.  I could also use a unique fiction book here and there.  I’d love to hear your suggestions.


What’s on Your List?

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Moneycone July 19, 2011 at 11:03 pm

I read the except of the Big Short in Vanity Fair – I was blown away! I never knew a financial book could be so gripping!

If anyone’s considering the book, check out the free excerpt (it is quite detailed by the way) in VF and head over to Amazon.

Your other recommendations look very promising as well – especially The Lost City of Z.


Darwin July 21, 2011 at 8:27 am

Lost City, you won’t be disappointed. Check it out!


Investor Junkie July 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm

I just finished reading Atlas Shrugged, review on my web site to come soon.


Darwin July 21, 2011 at 8:27 am

Movie any good? Just saw something on it.


Investor Junkie July 21, 2011 at 8:34 am

It was panned by the critics, but people who liked the book said the movie is true to the book. I have not seen it yet, and they do plan on releasing part 2 and 3 to direct to DVD. DVD for #1 should be released this fall.


Len Penzo July 23, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Speaking of books that made me think and help shape my views of the world… Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged was a terrific book I first read in high school. What’s interesting is prior to reading Atlas Shrugged, my English teacher had given the class a couple of John Steinbeck works (The Grapes of Wrath, and Of Mice and Men) — which I enjoyed, but were written from a completely different point of view from Rand. Needless to say, reading Atlas Shrugged made me look at things in a completely different way. I can’t wait to see the DVD!

All the best,

Len Penzo dot Com


Investor Junkie July 23, 2011 at 4:38 pm

I’m now almost done with Andrew Breitbart’s Righteous Indignation. It’s a guilty pleasure book, though I think he’s a new media expert. Say what you will about him, the ACORN story was broken perfectly.


No Debt MBA July 20, 2011 at 11:34 am

I read Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond many years ago and thought he made some interesting points, though if I remember correctly the book was a little ponderous. Maybe I’ll have to look for The Third Chimpanzee at the library.

I enjoyed stuff white people like when it was a blog.


Darwin July 21, 2011 at 8:28 am

Oh, I’ll have to check out their blog. Funny stuff.


101 Centavos July 20, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Guns Germs and Steel is under my nightstand, on the to-read pile. I finished Collapse, and just the other day I picked up and then put back down the 3rd Chimpanzee. Not before finishing the other one, I told me.
Good suggestion on the Lost City. I very much like travel books, and this one is a good fit.


Darwin July 21, 2011 at 8:28 am

If you enjoyed those, you’ll love the Wealth and Poverty of Nations. It formed my view of why the world is the way it is.


Finance Plan Guru July 21, 2011 at 3:33 pm

This looks like a great reading list, I can’t wait to check some of them out! What first caught my eye was ‘The Third Chimpanzee’ because I also really enjoyed Jared Diamonds previous work with ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel’. It did a great job explaining how military power, technology, and infectious disease has greatly impacted and shaped the world in which we live in. I also look forward to reading ‘Stuff White People Like’ because it seems very interesting and cynically entertaining.


Matt SF August 29, 2011 at 11:20 pm

The Power of Persuasion… Robert Levine

Agnotology… Proctor & Schiebinger


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