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5 Books Lawyers Should Be Reading in 2015

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on January 02, 2015 5:57 AM

Yeah, yeah, you've been saying "I should read more" for years, but you never do. Well, here's the utility argument: Reading good writing makes your writing better. That's right, regular old fiction and non-fiction can make your legal writing better.

Of course, that's not why you should be reading. You should be reading because it's fun, you learn things, and you get insight into the human condition. Stuff like that. So here are five books that lawyers should have been reading in 2014 (or that you can put on your list for 2015):

Fiction

"Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn -- "Gone Girl" captured America's attention because it was made into a big-budget movie starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, even though the book came out two years ago. Kind of like the podcast "Serial," the book is engrossing for lawyers because it posits an interesting ontological dilemma: Can a man who "acts" guilty but claims he didn't do it actually be innocent?

"The Paying Guests" by Sarah Waters -- A period piece (a London suburb in the 1920s) begins with the lodgers upstairs, turns steamy, and then ends with a death. There's a trial, of course, but that's largely unnecessary, as the book is about people, not the law. Did I mention "steamy"? But not in a silly way, like that the book about some number of gray things.

"On Such a Full Sea" by Chang-rae Lee -- I love dystopian fiction. Lee's world is a lot like our own -- pollution and an economically stratified social system, but America's current inhabitants are long-gone and the continent has been colonized by the Chinese. As with many dystopian novels, the protagonist has to leave the carefully ordered dystopian society and venture into the hinterlands, outside of her comfort zone.

Non Fiction

"Pay Any Price" by James Risen -- Risen chronicles the 13-year-old rise of what he calls the "homeland­security-industrial complex," which is predicated on existing in a constant state of fear of terrorism. This perpetual fear benefits private companies, which have made over half a trillion dollars in the years following the September 11 attacks.

"Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End" by Atul Gawande -- What? A doctor book? Actually, it's less about doctors as doctors, and more about doctors as counselors when it comes to patients at the end of their lives. It's a good read for lawyers, who often end up being "counselors" in the therapeutic sense more than in the legal one.

What book are you definitely going to read this year? Let us know on Twitter @FindLawLP.

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