This collection of the best Michael Lewis books exemplifies the full extent of his work and will open your eyes to the worlds of finance, sport and many other areas.
Lewis is known for books such as The Big Short and Moneyball which have been adapted into popular movies. However, there are plenty of lesser-known Michael Lewis books such as Flash Boys and The New New Thing that are just as interesting.
The great thing about his books is that no matter what the subject matter, and some of it can be intimidating and technical, it’s always easy for the layperson to understand. The Moneyball author has a knack for turning the seemingly mundane into fascinating reading.
In this collection of books by Michael Lewis, you’ll find a variety of topics covered and some fascinating stories that will entrance and bewilder you. There’s something for everyone, so you’re bound to find a few books that interest you!
Table of Contents
Best Michael Lewis Books
The Big Short
The Big Short is one of the most famous Michael Lewis books on this list and deals with the 2008 financial crash and how it happened.
If you’re familiar with the movie of the same name, then that’s because it’s based on this book. The events in the film are crazy and there just as crazy in the book.
It’s important to remember that everything you read actually happened. Sometimes it’s hard to believe as the level of risk-taking is off the charts. Considering what we know now too, it’s amazing no one took Michael Burry seriously at the time!
The Big Short is an eye-opening read and will give you excellent oversight into one of the biggest financial catastrophes in history came to be!
Liar’s Poker is a semi-autobiographical account of Lewis’ time on Wall Street during the 1980s and is considered to be one of the definitive accounts of the financial world in the 80s.
The book follows two threads; one of which is Lewis as we follow his journey from college education to his time at Salomon Brothers. We get first-hand accounts of his experiences and what it was like to work at the firm and Wall Street which make for gripping reading.
The second thread follows the history of Wall Street and Salomon Brothers, which features interviews with figures at the firm. We find out how Salomon Brothers virtually created the market for mortgage bonds by themselves which made the firm wealthy.
Liar’s Poker is a fascinating book and an eye-opening account of what Wall Street was like back in the 80s from someone who experienced it. As it’s the book that made Lewis a popular writer, it’s worth checking out. Even more so if you have an interest in the finance industry.
Moneyball is an excellent book that looks at the world of baseball and how Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics managed to upset the odds during the 2002 season.
Again, this is another of Michael Lewis’ books that was turned into a movie starring Brad Pitt. The book goes into more detail than the movie and shows Beane used sabermetrics to give the Athletics an advantage.
The Oakland Athletics were, and are, one of the smaller teams in Major League Baseball (MLB), and Beane wanted to find a way of evening the odds against the bigger teams who had a larger budget than he did.
What you’ll discover in Moneyball is how Beane and his team went to all sorts of lengths to give the Athletics an advantage, how it paid off, and the subsequent response from the big teams who jumped on his statistics bandwagon.
It’s a fascinating read and if you like sports, then you’ll love it even if you’re not familiar with baseball like me!
The Undoing Project
The Undoing Project takes a look at the relationship between Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, how it came to be and eventually broke apart.
It’s a fascinating book and takes you through the pair’s early lives, how they met, and their subsequent work on heuristics and decision-making.
If you’ve read Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, then The Undoing Project will be of interest to you as it details how these thoughts came to be.
It also provides some background on the relationship between Kahneman and Tversky, which is a fruitful professional relationship until things turn sour between the two.
When I read Flash Boys I was blown away by what Michael Lewis describes in the book. It looks at the world of high-frequency trading and the first few pages are enough to whet your appetite for the rest of the book.
Lewis starts off by describing efforts to build a perfectly straight fiber optic cable 827-mile (1,331 km) from Chicago to New York. It’s insane the lengths the backers behind the project go to get it built.
Flash Boys doesn’t relent from there and the remainder of the book is just as insane as the start. The premise of the book is that the system is rigged.
Whether it is or not is up for debate but after reading Flash Boys, you’ll be more sceptical of financial markets that’s for sure!
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The Fifth Risk
The Fifth Risk is a jaw-dropping book about the transition from Barack Obama’s presidency to Donald Trump’s and the political that the latter made.
Lewis looks at three departments, the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Commerce. All of which have risks that need to be managed effectively by the Federal Government.
What struck me while reading The Fifth Risk is just how haphazard the transition by Trump’s team was. You got the impression that they either didn’t know what they were doing or they were determined to make these departments work ineffectively from the outset.
It’s one of Michael Lewis’ best books as he makes a story about government infrastructure fascinating while showing how important competent government is.
Boomerang is a sort of follow-up to The Big Short which looks at the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash and has the somewhat provocative subtitle, ‘Travels in The New Third World.’
The book is based on articles that Lewis wrote for Vanity Fair after the crash. One of which is this one that he wrote about Greece and the fallout from the Eurozone crisis.
If you read through the article, you’ll note that there’s a lot of technical jargon, yet you never feel like you can’t understand what’s going on. That’s one of the best things about Lewis’ writing, that you are always able to understand even the most complicated of things.
Boomerang is an interesting book to read if you want to learn more about the implications of the 2008 crash and its wider effects, particularly in Europe.
The Blind Side
The Blind Side is the second of Michael Lewis’ books that focuses on sports, this time American Football.
The title refers to the position of offensive left tackle, which Lewis shows has become more important as the game has progressed over the past few decades. We learn about the tactical evolution in the sport, which is fascinating to read if you live outside the US like me and don’t know the ins and outs of the sport.
The Blind Side has another thread that follows the story of Michael Oher, a former left tackle who eventually goes on to play for the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL. We learn about his impoverished upbringing, adoption by a friend of Lewis’s, and subsequent successful college football career.
It’s the third of Lewis’s books to be made into a film, and if you’ve seen the film, then reading the book will help you have a better understanding of American Football and Oher’s incredible story.
Next is an interesting book that looks at the rise of the internet and the implications it will have for society as computer technology improves and the internet evolves.
It was written at the turn of the millennium in 2001 but still holds up today and some of the concerns raised by Lewis are relevant to us today.
One interesting story is that of Jonathan Lebed who began tradings stocks when he was twelve. After a few years, people start coming to him for stock advice, and that advice is able to move the market. This is an early example of what happened with the Gamestop saga in 2021 and highlights Lewis’ concern that the internet will upend society in a variety of ways.
One of the best reasons for reading Next is to see what the main concerns were about the internet when it was in its infancy and how many of them are still relevant today.
The New New Thing
The New New Thing focuses on several founders of Silicon Valley companies in the late 20th century.
It’s similar in style to Liar’s Poker and looks at the culture of founders in Silicon Valley who at the time it was written in 1999, were developing technologies that we’re all familiar with today.
The primary focus of the book is Jim Clark, who founded several companies in the Valley such as Netscape and Silicon Graphics. It gives The New New Thing an interesting focus as he’s not a household name like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.
Ultimately, the book looks at how Clark and these particular figures were able to get to where they were in the 1990s. It’s a fascinating insight into a world that not many of us know about but one that has shaped our lives more than we realise.
Trail Fever is an interesting book that follows the fortunes of several political figures during the 1996 Presidential Election and how they would ultimately lose their battle to get to the White House.
The book was later republished as Losers: The Road to Everyplace but the White House, which accurately describes the eventual success of those featured. In this way, it’s a kind of unique piece of political reporting as we see how the losers fared rather than the winner.
Trail Fever primarily focuses on Republican politicians, which leads to some colorful figures making an appearance such as Morry Taylor, the CEO of Titan International, who ran for the Republican nomination.
It’s a great book and one that provides an interesting insight into political campaigns, especially those that have little chance of succeeding.
The Premonition is about the US response to the Covid-19 pandemic and a group of scientists who were determined to get the Trump administration to take it seriously.
Instead of a focus on the administration, Lewis focuses on the scientists who fought the institutional malaise that was at the heart of the federal response.
If you’ve read one of Lewis’s books before then you’ll be familiar with the premise, as he portrays the efforts of unheralded scientists in their attempts to prevent disaster.
The Premonition is an interesting book and one that fills you with a mix of hope and dread. Hope, that there are scientists out there who believe passionately in protecting the public and dread at slow government machinery can be to click into gear when there’s an emergency.
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