If you want to have fun + read a good book + learn new finance trivia (or MBA) stuff, there are very few books available. The money literature is enormous, do not get me wrong. But among the more than 5,000 money books published every year there are very few that tick all of the boxes:
– fun to read;
– well written;
– factual / realistic / well documented;
– vivid and
– … Informative.
These being said, there are lots of fantastic money books out there, some of them unforgettable. Here is my list of the light & fiction money books ever written:
1. Niall Ferguson – “The Advent of Money”
Believe me, I studied finance for more than 20 years. Yet, this financial history of the world is so well documented and written, that it is a little encyclopedia on itself. Niall Ferguson writes facts-packed historical books about less dissected topics. “The Advent of Money” is actually the best reference for anyone who wants to understand how we got here. Read it and your understanding of money will change.
2. Terry Pratchett – “Making Money”
This Discworld fantasy novel is so hilarious that for some evenings I woke up my lady with my laugh. It is also such an accurate and funny depiction of a Central Bank functioning, that you will also learn a ton of things: Pratchett takes you to an amazing ride through the money printing, monetary mass, flows and policies that you will look at the bankers with different eyes after.
3. Philip K. Dick – “Solar Lottery”
Imagine you wake up one day, open your Holo TV (or UberRadio) and find your that you won the largest pot ever imaginable – at the Solar Lottery. Everybody starts literally to chase you – from old acquaintance s to politicians or oligarchs. What will you do? Will all the money in the world(s) make you the most powerful person?
Well, this sci-fi thriller will take you places. Places that you will want to revisit… when you will be rich.
4. William Golding – “The Spire”
Now we get serious :). The Nobel prize winner William Golding has won his ward reportedly not only for “The Lord of the Flies”, but for this little 250 pages gem describing the struggle of a money-less priest to build the greatest church ever. Deeply human and profound story of a Middle Ages person.
5. Thomas Mann – “Buddenbrooks”
How could we leave the (arguably) greatest German novelist of all times? Thomas Mann wrote at only 26 an incredibly rich novel about the decadence of a rich family, who fails to disconnect wealth from values and private life from business. Money appear as the Dr. Faustus (another breathtaking classic) character in the background of all major twists of the book. We are all human at the end of the day, right? Well, not sure about that.
6. Andre Gide – “The Counterfeiters”
No, living on a he dark side was not invented by the Star Wars scriptwriters. “The Money Forgers” is a proto-thriller, a tensioned character novel describing in a post-modernist manner the life at
the edge of society. Deep psychological descriptions come rounded with sharp dialogues and intense pieces of action on the background. Get to know Andre Gide and this other side of the French literature!
7. Peter Carey – “Oscar and Lucinda”
Greed, religious fervor and conditional love mix together in a missionary breathtaking journey across Australia. What happens when a London missionary travels to the end of the world to make a dream come true? It gets even more interesting – he does this based on a bet with another compulsive gamblers, through an incredible set of circumstances. “Oscar and Lucinda” is a story of using everything you can to increase your wealth and establish an extraordinary legacy – finally money gets put to a good use (and it’s not charity!).
8. Liaquat Ahamed – “The Lords of Finance – The Bankers Who Broke the World”
Not quite your finance history study book, not quite a fiction thriller. “Lords of Finance” dive deep into the 1929’s Great Depression characters that changed our monetary system forever… by destroying it. Four central bankers play there deeply informed and yet flawed human nature cards – and with their choices the reader gets a glimpse into how the crisis unfolded. These four persons destroyed the world economy in a few months with their decisions – or maybe they saved it from complete chaos? You can decide for yourself.
9. Neal Stephenson – “Snow Crash”
Neal Stephenson became (more) famous in 2017 when Bill Gates read and endorsed his “Seveneves” sci-fi distooyx. Howecer, Snow Crash is for me his masterpiece. Money is everything – money can buy you health care, security or even a luxury prison room. But… nothing compares to freedom – the freedom of controlling the money supply, a fragile virtual ecosystem maintained by white hats hackers. Snow Crash has some of the most action depoctures I ever read – and is as addictive as any Dan Brown thriller out there on the market. Give it a shot!
10. Vernor Vinge – “Rainbow’s End”
A sci fi novel that goes deep into our near future interdependent world. Even when you have absolute control over the Network, somebody can still tilt the equilibrium in a different direction. Vinge is wildly optimistic for a distopian novelist, but I would not be so sure that all will end well :). “The End of The Rainbow” shows us that alternative futures are becoming more and more tangled, whilst wealth and money transform themselves continuously.