Shorter review: Read both of these books.
Boomerang by Michael Lewis is his extended vacation into the fun world of…well, the world, after the financial crash of 2008.
Lewis hits Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Germany, and briefly comes back to the US in his overview of what happened around the world when the markets tanked. His style is great - he is incredibly knowledgeable, and he puts what could be complex and dry economic writing into very easy to understand language.
It also really illuminates how utterly, unbelievably stupid a lot of people were being before the crash, and how some of them are still being stupid several years later. If the financial news from Europe and the EU has you a little confused, Boomerang is an excellent primer, and a great read to boot.
Another primer comes from Eben Weiss, who takes his Internet persona the NYC Bike Snob into the printed medium with Bike Snob: Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling.
Weiss’s Bike Snob got its start and rose to popularity going after the Williamsburg hipsters on fixies in an awesomely snarky way. If you don’t know what those words mean, you should definitely pick up this book, because Weiss goes through the history of cycling in the US, and examines the weird subcultures that have sprung up in it today. Fun Fact: Madison Square Garden in NYC was originally built to showcase bike races.
Weiss writes a book that will unfortunately be read by bike people, and not by non-bike people. This is a shame, because it is really a book for the non-bikers; today’s cyclists (myself included) will definitely enjoy it, but they already ride, and don’t need encouraged to do so. What Weiss excels at is explaining that rather than bitch about those damn cyclists on the streets, people should become them, at least a little bit. He encourages people to ride more, either for fun or exercise or whatever your excuse is. He eschews the tribes that modern cyclists have built, and pushes the reader to just go take a ride. It’s great advice, and I wish more people would try it.