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  • Investment Insights are written by Angeles' CIO Michael Rosen

    Michael has more than 30 years experience as an institutional portfolio manager, investment strategist, trader and academic.

MORE (NOT NECESSARILY) BEACH READING

Published: 07-29-2019

For many people, the beach is an escape, and they want their beach books to transport them to worlds of fantasy. Coming up with a recommended beach reading list is a challenge for me for two reasons: the beach is less an escape than a daily backdrop of my commute (hoping to incite some jealously), and most of the hundred or so books I read each year are weighty nonfiction tomes not generally associated with easy beach reading. Still, nonfiction can transport the reader to another world too, and in any event, the distinction between reality and fantasy seems to be blurring rapidly. With that introduction, here are five books I have read in the first half of this year I recommend to you.

History/Politics

Brenda Wineapple, The Impeachers.

History tends to gloss over the first impeachment, that of Andrew Johnson, who is usually cited as the worst president we’ve ever had (so far).  But this book helps us understand the debate about post-Civil War America, which was the real underlying context of the impeachment proceedings. Wineapple shows that we were very much a divided country, and the parallels with today are readily apparent.

David Blight, Frederick Douglass.

Blight argues that Frederick Douglass is the single greatest American. I don’t know if he is quite able to elevate Douglass above Washington and Lincoln, but Blight makes a compelling case for this extraordinary man.

History/Arts

Ian Port, The Birth of Loud.

The electric guitar is rock n’ roll, but first it had to be invented, and this is its story. Leo Fender and Les Paul are the two giants featured here, although virtually every great guitarist makes an appearance. Fender and Paul came at it from completely different backgrounds, but together, with others, they changed music and our lives. This book is a must-read for guitarists.

Fiction

Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing.

Jesmyn Ward makes my list with every book she writes. She is the poet laureate of the Deep South of the African-American experience. As always, she writes beautifully. Here, her theme is the parent-child relationship, intermixed with ever-present racial relations that are eloquently expressed through a ghost.

Zadie Smith, Swing Time.

Two poor girls in London bond in dance class. Their lives diverge, but they are always connected. Smith captures the transformation of a friendship, while deftly incorporating social inequalities and contradictions. Beautiful on many levels.

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