The Rich are Different: A Book List

RulesThe rich provide an endless stream of material for writers. Maybe it's because their highs are so high and their lows so low. Maybe it's because they always seem to disappoint us in some way. Or maybe it's because we, as readers, are just fascinated with them. Maybe we even want to be them.

In this month's list of our Top 10 Best Books of the Month, we included Jonathan Dee's The Locals, which Sarah Smith, Amazon Editorial Director of Print and Kindle, described in her Best of the Month review: "After 9/11, a wealthy New York financier moves in, and in short order becomes the town’s First Selectman, eschewing a salary, repealing taxes, and behaving, in both popular and unpopular ways, like the prince of a blue-collar fiefdom."

That got me thinking about books about rich people. Love 'em or hate 'em, here's a list that's probably got a book that's right for you:

 

 

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A wealthy hedge fund trader moves to the Berkshires to remake his summer vacation spot in his own image.
 

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The classic 80s novel of Wall Street wealth and privilege. And it was Tom Wolfe's debut as a novelist.
 

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Michael Lewis did not go straight into book writing after college. Instead he went to Wall Street to work for Salomon Brothers. This book is a nonfiction account of that experience. (It's pure coincidence that there's a Tom Wolfe blurb on the cover.)
 

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It's tempting to put The Last Tycoon here, but 1. it was never finished, and 2. Gatsby is a classic and an exquisite study of how aloof the rich can be. Remember, "There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired."
 

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Finally we make it out of New York to a different place... Singapore. When Rachel Chu agrees to attend a wedding with her boyfriend in his hometown of Singapore, she is introduced to a world of opulence and backstabbing that most of us can only imagine.
 

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The author of the smashing best seller A Gentleman in Moscow also wrote this excellent debut. Two young roommates, Katey and Eve, meet a handsome New York banker who invites them into his life of wealth, status, beauty, and ambition.
 

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Not to leave out L.A., which has its share of wealth and nihilism--here's another classic 80s novel of young people with too much time, money, resources, and ennui on their hands.
 

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In this nonfiction account of Brazilian billionaires--seriously, you will not believe how rich they are--we watch the 8th richest man in the world destroy himself with ambition. In fact, there's a whole lot to watch here.
 

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I believe this is the only Pulitzer Prize winner on the list. Published 25 years ago, Stewart shows how four of the 80s’ biggest names on Wall Street—Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, Martin Siegel, and Dennis Levine —created the greatest insider-trading ring in financial history and nearly walked away with billions. Spoiler alert: in this case, they weren't successful.
 

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If you are looking for a nonfiction account of how things have changed (and haven't) since the days of Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky, look here. This is the monumental story of billionaire Stephen A. Cohen and the fall of his hedge fund SAC Capital.
 

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And now from the "Oh, no he didn't category," I offer E.L. James classic helicopter flying, secret chamber-owning billionaire, Christian Grey. Grey is subtitled "Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian." This list was getting a little heavy.
 

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Finally, a book about New York wealth that probably got an unfair reception back when it was originally published. City on Fire received so much anticipatory praise before it was published that even the backlash suffered backlash. The novel, which is a doorstop, is not perfect. But Gatsby might be the only perfect novel written. Ever. And that's just my opinion. City on Fire is like many of the subjects in many of the books on this list: rich, ambitious, often captivating, occasionally boorish, bigger and brighter than most.

 

 

 

 

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