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What to read when Wall Street melts down

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So you woke up this morning and found your 401(k) in a meltdown. Other than extricating your bicycle from the back of your garage, pumping its empty tires full of air, and carefully placing a humble brown-bag lunch in its basket, what can you do? You might start by reading a few books.

On the strictly practical side, you could take a look at the "25 best books about money" list compiled at www.getrichslowly.org. This list is just a bit dated (posted in the spring of 2007) but the information is still good, and you may find that titles like "How To Live Well Without Owning a Car" and "Miserly Moms" have an appeal today that they just didn't have 18 months ago.

On the other hand, if it's understanding you're seeking, you might like to pick up a couple of titles like "Wall Street: America's Dream Palace" by Steve Fraser and "The Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash" by Charles R. Morris. Both books were reviewed by the New York Times earlier this year and with both it's basically a case of a good writer meeting important material – in other words, explaining to us how we got into this mess in the first place.

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