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What Wall Street is reading this summer

Ah, summer. A time when Wall Street unbuttons its shirt, kicks off its shoes and heads for the Hamptons. So what books are they stuffing in their weekend bags?


Busnessman reading book at the beach
ZenShui/Sigrid Olsson | PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections | Getty Images

In this installment of CNBC's summer reading series, we checked in with traders, bankers, analysts and hedge funders. Here were some of the best answers:

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

By Ashlee Vance

The pages of this book could be blank and Wall Street would still buy it. Anyone of this caliber or magnitude always fascinates. This book was written with exclusive access to Tesla CEO Elon Musk — something every investor, aspiring entrepreneur and next-generation Master of the Universe would devour.

"I read this book to be inspired," a friend told me. "It was like playing the theme song to Rocky III—it made me want to run out and start my own company. I'm gonna read it again."

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Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption

By Lara Hillenbrand

This book is more like a make-up exam. It's one of those books that is continually brought up in conference rooms, business dinners or at the urinal. Guys know they should have read it by now so it's at the top of their list. Traders like to test their limits. So, a story about former teen-age delinquent who then went on to become an Olympic athlete and a World War II pilot, then survived an ocean crash riddled with sharks, starvation and enemy aircraft — yeah, that's what Wall Street calls a beach read.

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice

By Bill Browder

This book is part biography, part history and part thriller. It checks every box. Browder became a hedge-fund superstar when the Soviet Union collapsed. And then he discovered that Russian officials were robbing the companies that he was investing in, which eventually led to him being expelled from the country by Putin himself. And that's when things get a little crazy. Naturally, reading a story like this is how Wall Street relaxes.

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Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics

By Richard Thaler

This book won't help you get the girl at the beach, but it's a fascinating read. It's about the impact of being human — all of the errors and miscalculations we make — on the economy. It's dense but surprisingly funny.


Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners from Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History

By Guy Lawson

You won’t find this book on any of Wall Street’s required reading lists but it’s not a guilty pleasure read either. It’s like page-turning fiction, but 100-percent true. In 2007, these “dudes” apparently got a $300 million Department of Defense contract to supply ammunition to the Afghanistan military. Instead of fulfilling it with high-quality weaponry, they bought millions of rounds of shoddy Chinese ammunition from Balkan gunrunners and repackaged them. Eventually, they got busted by the Pentagon. And, as Amazon pitches it, that’s just the official story. “The truth is far more explosive.” More than a few Wall Streeters I know have started to read this one.

It also doesn’t hurt that this book is being turned into a movie starring Jonah Hill and Miles Teller. Though, we all know the book is always better than the movie.

So, what are you reading this summer? Drop it in the comments below.

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Commentary by Turney Duff, a former trader at the hedge fund Galleon Group. Duff chronicled the spectacular rise and fall of his career on Wall Street in the book, "The Buy Side," and is currently working on his second book, a Wall Street novel. He is also featured on the CNBC show, "The Filthy Rich Guide." Follow him on Twitter @turneyduff.